This photograph of the rotting dead awaiting burial after the Battle of Gettysburg is perhaps the best-known Civil War landscape. It was published in Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War (1866), the nation’s first anthology of photographs. The Sketch Book features ten photographic plates of Gettysburg—eight by Timothy H. O’Sullivan, who served as a field operator for Alexander Gardner, and two by Gardner himself. The extended caption that accompanies this photograph is among Gardner’s most poetic: "It was, indeed, a ‘harvest of death.’ . . . Such a picture conveys a useful moral: It shows the blank horror and reality of war, in opposition to its pageantry. Here are the dreadful details! Let them aid in preventing such another calamity falling upon the nation."
Inscription: Printed in black ink on mount, recto BC below image: "Negative by T.H. O'SULLIVAN. Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1865, by Alex Gardner, in the Clerk's Office of the Disctrict Court of the District of Columbia Positive by A. GARDNER, 511 7th St. Washington. // A HARVEST OF DEATH, GETTYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA // No. 36. July, 1863"
Alfred R. Waud Collection; [Rinhart Galleries, Inc., New York, October 8, 1976]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York
Plate 36 in Volume 1 of Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War. This print is accompanied by the descriptive text page from Gardner's Sketchbook.