The above image, called an ambrotype, is part of a museum exhibition that just opened in Charleston, S.C., called "Photography and the American Civil War." The process, which uses a glass plate, captured Confederate Army Capt. Charles Hawkins, left, and his brother, John, around 1861 or '62.
The show at Charleston's Gibbes Museum of Art speaks to the ongoing 150th anniversary of the War Between the States that ultimately cost about 750,000 lives. It was organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and its more than 200 photographs provide a detailed look at what the camera saw during the devastating war that ended in 1865.
It shows a contrast of images -- bloody battlefields with dead bodies as well as formal portraits of soldiers going to war, such as the Hawkins brothers. There are also rare panorama images of Gettysburg, Pa., and Richmond, Va., and portraits of Abraham Lincoln and his assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
But, the museum says, the show is also about the evolution of photography, from the use of copper and glass plates to tintypes and large likenesses on paper that had been brushed over with India ink or watercolors or oils.
Photographers who created these early pictures include Mathew B. Brady, George N. Barnard, Alexander Gardner and Timothy O'Sullivan.
As for the Hawkins brothers, only John survived. Charles died in 1863 in the Shenandoah Valley during battle, and John was wounded at the Battle of Gaines' Mill in Virginia in 1862. He fought with his company until the South surrendered at Appomattox.
The museum offers free admission on Oct. 13 and guided tours on Oct. 17, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12. The show continues through Jan. 5 and then travels to the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Info: Gibbes Museum of Art