Visible Under Current Double Matting: 6 x 14 Inches
Actual Image Size: 10 3/4 x 15 1/8 Inches
While the photographic process evolved rapidly from its inception in 1839 and the wet plate process of taking photographs was coming into widespread use by the start of the Civil War, it was a cumbersome process in the field as well as the studio. More significantly, at that time the photographs themselves could not be reproduced as illustrations accompanying written reports of the war.
As a result, publishers of newspapers and other periodicals in major cities, primarily in the North, employed a number of sketch artists who traveled with armies to draw the scenes that they witnessed. These sketches, most frequently pencil on paper with brief identifications of people and places, were then sent back by courier to the periodical publishers. The battlefield sketches received by the publishers were then copied by engraving artists onto wooden blocks, which were used in printing presses to illustrate printed articles covering the war.
This illustration would have been done during the Civil War, while Alfred Waud was a sketch artist working exclusively for Harper's Weekly. The three ships pictured were all Confederate blockade runners captured by the Union.
NEPTUNE (1863) was a sidewheel steamer later renamed USS CLYDE to serve the Union Navy patrolling navigable waterways of the Confederacy to prevent the South from trading with other countries.
The VESTA was a captured by the Union Army in early 1864 off the Carolina coast. The Confederates were able to run the ship aground at Little River Inlet, evacuate the ship and set fire to her valuable cargo of army supplies before it fell into Union hands.
ALLIANCE was captured at Savannah in April, 1864. ALLIANCE was the first three funnel steamer built on the Clyde river in Glasgow. A Waud sketch in pencil of the ALLIANCE is also in the collection of the Library of Congress.
Verso is a sketch of a Monitor-class Ironclad. The original monitor was designed by John Ericsson in 1861 who named it USS Monitor. They were designed for shallow waters and served as coastal ships. The term "monitor" also encompassed more flexible breastwork monitors, and was sometimes used as a generic term for any turreted ship.
After the war, the popular Century Magazine started publishing the narratives of Civil War veterans and retained a large number of sketch artists including Waud to illustrate the articles. They used interviews, photographs, and prior war-date sketches to produce accurate pictorial representations of the war. These illustrated accounts were incorporated into a large four-volume work entitled Battles and Leaders of the Civil War in 1881.This particular work was published in the 1974 book, "American Heritage Century Collection of Civil War Art", p. 192, plate 199
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