The Graduate Center - City University of New York

Francis H. Schell, "Sketching Under Fire at Antietam," McClure's (1904)

The September 17, 1862 Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland, resulted in a qualified Union victory, forcing Lee's invading Army to retreat back to Virginia. With almost 23,000 casualties, Antietam was the bloodiest single-day battle in U.S. history. Forty-one years later, former Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper "special artist" Frank Schell vividly recalled the harrowing experience of the battle and the dangerous conditions he faced as he sketched the brutal warfare before his eyes. While photography was still in its infancy—unable yet to capture action or to be cheaply reproduced in periodicals or books—artists' battlefront sketches were a major source of visual news about the war. Schell, who was 28, was typical of a new type of reporter, recording direct observations or collected stories in rough sketches and notes that were dispatched to newspaper offices in New York where they were made into wood engravings and printed as illustrations in the North's three weekly illustrated newspapers (the South had no comparable pictorial news resource).

Creator: Francis H. Schell

Date: February 1904

Publisher: McClure's 22: 418-29

Source: American Social History Project