Brigadier General Louis Blenker


Louis Blenker (1812–63) was a Union general in the American Civil War. Born as Ludwig Blenker in Worms, Germany, he joined the Bavarian Legion in 1832, which fought for Prince Otto (subsequently King Otto I of Greece). He later fought with distinction in the German revolutions of 1848. He immigrated to the United States in 1849 and settled in Rockland County, New York, before moving to New York City. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, he formed the Eighth New York Infantry, a regiment of German-American volunteers, and was commissioned colonel. Blenker successfully led troops in the First Battle of Bull Run and was promoted to brigadier general for his gallantry. In December 1861, he was appointed commander of a division in the Mountain Department but was relieved of his command in June 1862 after suffering a serous defeat at the Battle of Cross Keys. He later died as the result of injuries suffered in the fall of his horse during the Virginia campaign. The image is from an album of mostly Civil War-era portraits by the famous American photographer Matthew Brady (circa 1823‒96) that belonged to Emperor Pedro II of Brazil (1825‒91), a collector of photography as well as a photographer himself. The album was a gift to the emperor from Edward Anthony (1818‒88), another early American photographer who, in partnership with his brother, owned a company that in the 1850s became the leading seller of photographic supplies in the United States. Dom Pedro may have acquired the album during a trip to the United States in 1876 when he, along with President Ulysses S. Grant, opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Brady was born in upstate New York, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Best known for his photographs documenting the battles of the American Civil War, he began his career in 1844 when he opened a daguerreotype portrait studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Streets in New York City. Over the course of the next several decades, Brady produced portraits of leading American public figures, many of which were published as engravings in magazines and newspapers. In 1858 he opened a branch in Washington, DC. The album, which also contains a small number of non-photographic prints, is part of the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil. The collection is composed of 21,742 photos assembled by Emperor Pedro II throughout his life and donated by him to the national library. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and Brazilians in the 19th century and also includes many photographs of Europe, Africa, and North America.

Last updated: March 22, 2016