[Grand Army Review, Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington]
Alexander Gardner American, Scottish
Not on view
On May 23 and 24, 1865, two weeks after the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, was taken prisoner in Georgia, more than 150,000 jubilant soldiers marched up Pennsylvania Avenue as part of the Grand Army Review. To the sounds of bands playing "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," the armies of the Potomac, Tennessee, and Georgia were feted in a victory parade to celebrate the end of the war. Traveling from the newly completed Capitol (seen in the distance) to the main reviewing stand in front of the Executive Mansion, row after row of men passed before Alexander Gardner's stereoscopic camera, positioned just above the heads of the crowd.
Posted opposite the Willard Hotel, today still standing at Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street, Gardner and several assistants worked to document the event with relatively fast, small plate cameras. The resulting views, in which the soldiers and horses are blurred, were taken from the spectators' level rather than from an ideal vantage point, thus anticipating by twenty years the contingent look of street photography made with hand-held cameras. Statistics would later reveal that four times the number of men who marched in the Grand Army Review had died in the war.