BENSON J. LOSSING, Lt.D.
MATHEW B. BRADY
BENSON J. Lossing LL. D. - the author of A History of the Civil War 1861-65 was more than a historian, and he was more than an engaging writer, though to be sure he was both of these. He was also a great authority; a court of last resort for facts and data. He knew how to write history and he gathered his material in a manner all his own. Charles Dudley Warner said of him, "In reading the historical works of Lossing, one is amazed that any human being could carry so much information, and yet carry it so lightly. His vast array of facts did not seem to bear him down; he was as buoyant as cork and as light as a feather."
John Morley, in writing of Dr. Lossing, said, "To be interesting and at the same time authentic - to be patriotic and at the same time impartial - to be at once a reader for young and old-this was his peculiar genius, and in this he was supreme."
Brander Matthews said, "He was the most conscientious and thorough writer of history this country has produced."
Sir Walter Besant once said that it is easier to make history than it is to write it, and that it is not so difficult to conduct a battle as it is to describe one. Whether this be literally true or not, there is little doubt that writing history is one thing, and writing history that the world will read is quite another. The power to state facts accurately, and yet to fill them with charm and interest is the gift that has been given to few men. Dr. Lossing had this supreme gift. He wrote a score of fascinating books, and his writing was as graceful and natural as the flight of a bird. He was a veritable wizard of the pen. Such a man was he in his peculiar field that Oliver Wendell Holmes said of him that he had done more than any other man to make history interesting and popular. His History of the Civil War was written at the time when the facts were fresh. Lossing was intimately acquainted with the great leaders of the country. He conversed with President Lincoln, Generals Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and other great men of the time. He heard them talk and noted what they told him. He secured the stories and opinions of those who bad been concerned in what he described. He traveled the country over and visited the scenes and battle grounds of the great National conflict and was able to tell what he had seen and heard and with the pen of a genius. As we read, all is alive and real. The events, the battles of the war, the triumphs and defeats are told faithfully and vividly. It was Lossing's purpose to make this history familiar to all, and by doing so, to kindle in this natural, wholesome way the spirit of patriotism. The reader is carried on from page to page, from chapter to chapter, with an ever-compelling interest that makes it difficult to pause. There is nothing tedious or dull; every character is real, and all the thrilling events and scenes seem to be filled with new interest and life. Lossing put his vast learning into this work. He wished it to be regarded as a memorial to him. He died loaded with glory and honors. A dozen great colleges had conferred on him scholarly and honorary degrees, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City had made him an Honorary Fellow for life.
MATHEW B. BRADY, who photographed the Civil War 1861-65 and sold his wonderful collection of negatives to the United States Government, was unique as a photographic artist. The reproduction of his famous War negatives shows in this History of the Civil War that he was fifty years in advance of his time, for many of his photographs compare favorably with the best quality of work today. That he was well equipped for this great work is shown by his remarkable career. In the early 50's, he was the representative photographic artist of the day. His studios on Broadway, New York City. were patronized by the famous men and women of the period. The list of famous men and women who posed before his magic camera is too long to receive more than passing mention in this brief notice. A few of the prominent negatives now in the possession of the United States Government may, however, be mentioned, such as portraits of Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Cullen Bryant, John G. Saxe, John Lothrop Motley, and the great authors and poets of the period. Among the ex-presidents may be mentioned the portraits of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and James A. Garfield, while the members of the stage contributed to his marvelous collection of celebrities portraits such as Edwin Booth, Joseph Jefferson, Jenny Lind, Dion Boucicault, J. C. Howard, the actor and father of the first little Eva of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." A few of the famous men and women of the time may be mentioned, as Horace Greeley, Henry Ward Beecher, Clara Barton-the founder of the world-famous Red Cross Society, Edward Everett, Den Pericy Poor, Granville Dodge, the famous engineer, General Sam Houston, and Henry Grinnell, the famous Arctic Explorer.
This list, taken at random from thousands, shows beyond dispute that Brady was the leader in his profession. The most important of all Bradv's work, as General Greeley says, is his marvelous collection of Civil War photographs. It was Brady who left his profitable business to take pictures of the War. He secured permission from President Lincoln, and under the protection of Allan Pinkerton of the Secret Service Bureau, Brady and his men started taking pictures, thinking that the War would riot last more than two or three months, but for four long, weary years, they were actively at work throughout the country, and his wonderful collection of negatives of the great historical scenes and portraits of the leaders on both sides now attest to his energetic and remarkable work. It was these negatives that would be sold to the United States Government, and by special permission of the War Department, reproductions have been made direct from the originals which so fittingly illustrate, as nothing else could do, the vivid text of Dr. Lossing in this History of the Civil War. General Grant, Butler, and Garfield valued this collection at $150,000. As it turns out today, this valuation was remarkably conservative. Yet Brady sold the negatives to the Government for $27,840 (See General Greeley's report on page four). The reproduction of these famous negatives at this time, by permission of the War Department, not only commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the War for the Nation, but will leave a memorial to Mathew B. Brady for future generations as the photographic genius of his time.
HENRY A. OGDEN
HENRY A. OGDEN stands in the front rank of American painters of Colonial and
Military subjects. By long and careful study he developed an ability amounting to genius in the portraiture of Colonial subjects and Army men and scenes. He is the great grandson of a Revolutionary hero who defended Bunker Hill. His artistic ability in historic art attracted the attention of the Quarter-Master General of the United States Army, by whom he was engaged under authority of Congress to paint the designs for color plates of all the uniforms of the Army from the time of Washington. He made them much more than a pictorial record of the various forms of dress which have been used in the Army since its beginning in 1775. While they show with accurate detail every change in the dress of officers and soldiers, he has also, whenever possible, made his pictures portraits of men who were prominent in the Army at the time represented by the picture. And his strong dramatic sense has caused him to portray each group of men as typical of the time to which they belonged, and to make them appear alive, vigorous, and intensely interesting. He did this great work with the complete approval of the Government authorities of the War Department.
Mr. Ogden's famous battlefield collection of the Civil War is reproduced in colors as frontispieces for eight of the sections of this history, where we find eight great Union commanders not merely in the scenes of battle, but in a critical moment, in some sharp climax or decisive movement that passes into history in the lives of these military heroes at a great hour-what a great man is in his greatest moment and measures, sums him, comprehends him. Mr. Ogden has executed this work with rare ability and skill. As the sections of this work are received, great military events will be found as colored frontispieces to each section.
Mr. Ogden now has his studio in the tall Times Building, New York, in the busiest part of Broadway, where he looks out over square miles of housetops and in his imagination sees instead the fields and forests of Manhattan Island as it was in the Colonial days he loves to paint. Among the many of Mr. Ogden's delightful and historical paintings may be mentioned "Washington's Last Birthday, February 22, 1799," which was also the wedding day of Nellie Custis, Mrs. Washington's granddaughter. It is the most charming in sentiment and delicate detail of all Mr. Ogden's work.
Mr. Ogden is yet in early middle life and in all human likelihood has before him many fertile years. It is gratifying to find him still holding to the best of the old traditions and not afraid to paint an interesting picture that will realize something of the lives and thoughts and feelings of the men and women of other days.
Additional to Mr. Ogden's famous series are eight great battle scenes and naval engagements by Mr. Thulstrup, Davidson and other artists of military subjects.
Copyright, 1895, by CHARLES F. JOHNSON, Copyright, 1905, by LOSSING HISTORY COMPANY. Copyright, 1912, by THE WAR MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION.