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DateOriginal Topic
19th February 2003Photography
By Robert
Just curious - During the American Civil War, which ended in 1865, there were contemporary photos of battlefields etc - why are there not more contemporary photos of Islandana and Rorke's Drift? Am I right in that the press was allowed to accompany the Army?
DateReplies
25th February 2003Edward Garcia
I believe that the lack of “in-the-field” photographs of the Zulu War is or was the result of the remote locations in which the war took place. This is not limited to the Zulu War since how many photographs have we seen that were taken during the Afghan War which was being fought at the same time?

During the American Civil War much of the fighting took place in heavily populated regions and in many cases very close to major cities and towns. It was relatively easy for a photographer to load up a wagon with the needed equipment and follow an army to the front or for soldiers to visit a local photographer in a nearby town.

At the same time it should be noted that there are very few pictures taken during the Indian Wars of the 1870’s and 80’s. I do not know of any that survived from the Little Big Horn Campaign and very few from those against the Apaches some years latter. This is not doubt due much in part to the remote locations of those campaigns, just as it was in South Africa and Afghanistan.

Another related reason was the methods and materials used in photography of that period. Heavy and very fragile glass plate negatives did not travel well nor did the copious quantities of chemicals need to process them. These were transported in glass bottles thus did not travel well either. Long exposure times (by modern standards) were another prohibiting factor.