The monument, unlike any other commemorating America’s Civil War, stands in a pass atop Maryland’s South Mountain, about an hour’s drive west of Washington, DC. Yes, soldiers fought and died here in Crampton’s Gap, one of a triad of scrappy mountain fights waged three days before the bloodletting at Sharpsburg. But this memorial in what is today Gathland State Park honors the Civil War’s correspondents and artists…
Whose toils cheered the fireside,
Educated provinces of rustics into
a bright nation
and gave incentive to narrate
distant wars and explore dark lands.
Around the tribute cited above, 157 names grace the four sides of the arched stone monument. Alfred R. Waud’s is perhaps the best known. Such was not always the case. Only in the last decades leading up to the Civil War Centennial did America rediscover the vivid, compelling imagery of the one battlefield artist who witnessed and sketched the war from Manassas to Appomattox.
Born in London in 1828, this gifted young man came to America in 1850, landing in New York with a letter of recommendation to John Brougham, the Irish actor and playwright, seeking a position as a scene painter. When a job in Brougham’s Lyceum Theater on Broadway didn’t work out, Waud sought artistic employment wherever opportunity beckoned, eventually moving to Boston. There, he found work with Barnum and Beach’s Illustrated Weekly, but more importantly, learned to draw on wood blocks for to-be-published engravings. Among his best credits… Hunter’s Panoramic Guide from Niagara to Quebec, released in Boston in 1857 by John P. Jewett & Co., the same firm that had first published Uncle Tom’s Cabin five years before. Highlighting the Guide stretched Waud’s seven and a half inch wide by twelve foot long, unfolded “aerial” panorama, a stunningly detailed portrayal of the Niagara River, the Falls, and Lake Ontario, then down the St. Lawrence River to Quebec!
Success brought recognition…and more opportunity. Learning of Waud’s impending move to New York in March of 1860, Boston friends wished him the best. “All of us who have had the pleasure of a personal acquaintance remember with much satisfaction the hours which have been enlivened by your presence among us, and though deeply regretting your contemplated Spring removal to another city—nevertheless trust that in your future home all prosperity & happiness may ever attend you & yours.” Now as illustrator with the New York Illustrated News, Waud in just a year’s time would meet his greatest challenge, accompanying the Union army into the field, graphically bringing camps and battles–the headline news!–to the parlors and dinner tables of a people at war…
…and also here, in the months ahead, to all of you stirred by the essence of those times.
 Frederic E. Ray, Alfred R. Waud, Civil War Artist, (New York: Viking Press, 1974), 13.