One of the reasons for our fascination with the American Civil War is that it coincided with the nascent stages of photography. Because we have photographs of Lincoln, Grant, and Lee we see them as more human–more like us–than Washington, Jefferson and Madison, for whom all that remain are artists’ renderings. This sense of shared humanity allows us to relate to the citizens of 1861-65 in a way we never could with the Founding Fathers. My own interest in the War of the Rebellion began when my uncle gave me a book of Brady photographs when I was ten.
Here is a vignette on the man who finished last in his West Point Class of ’61.