Cover image for Prang's Civil War pictures : the complete battle chromos of Louis Prang with the full "descriptive texts"
Prang's Civil War pictures : the complete battle chromos of Louis Prang with the full "descriptive texts"
Prang, Louis, 1824-1909.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Fordham University Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
xi, 184 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 19 x 26 cm.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E470 .P68 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



During the 1880s, a German-born, Boston-based picture publisher successfully commissioned the most ambitious series of battle prints ever published. Louis Prang, best known as the "father of the Christmas card," hired noted military and marine artists to create original scenes of combat, and then reproduced their works in a wildly popular portfolio of chromolithographs. He called the set Prang's War Pictures.

They were offered to an eager public accompanied by "descriptive texts" that told the story of each engagement through eyewitness recollection by the heroes of each action. The set proved both appealing and influential, selling vigorously in various editions for a generation, and elevating the stature of military illustration in America. For 20 years, Civil War prints for the masses had featured uninspired, one-dimensional views of armies in hand-to-hand combat.Prang and his artists demonstrated genuine skill and imaginative perspective. They showed both real carnage and important technological advances, revealing both the broad sweep of panoramic battlefields and the intimate action of individual combatants.

These famously sepia-toned chromos went on to become familiar illustrations in books and magazines-often offered as definitive examples of Civil War art. But until now, the complete set of 18 chromos has never been collected in a single volume. And the original "Descriptive Texts" first offered Prang's customers as marketing brochures to boost sales-a priceless historical archive in and of themselves-have never been published since, anywhere.Holzer reunites pictures and texts in an authoritative, milestone volume orchestrating prints and descriptions that resurrect Prang's original conception of battle art for the masses for a new generation.

The book also features reproductions of the original works of art that inspired the prints, created on commission by battle painter Thure de Thulstrup and naval specialist Julian Oliver Davidson-now housed in art collections around the country-but seldom seen since they were commissioned by Prang as models for his ambitious chromolithographs.

This long-needed complete Prang portfolio will undoubtedly become an essential collectible for Civil War aficionados in the country, as well as for libraries and university collections increasingly aware of the importance of art and iconography in defining the Civil War experience and the impact of Civil War memory.

Author Notes

Harold Holzer is one of the leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. He is a prolific writer and lecturer. He has written, co-written and edited over 30 books including Abraham Lincoln, The Writer (2000), which was named to the Children's Literature Choice List and the Bank Street Best Children's Books of the Year, and Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President (2004), which won a 2005 Lincoln Prize. He has also written over 425 popular magazine and scholarly journal articles and numerous pamphlets and monographs. He has won numerous awards including the Barondess Award of the Civil War Round Table of New York five times; the Award of Achievement from the Lincoln Group of New York three times; a 1988 George Washington Medal; the 2000 Newman Book Award; and the 2008 National Humanities Medal. He is the Senior Vice President for External Affairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Editor Holzer is author of 19 books and some 300 articles about the art and political culture of the Civil War era. Although not a specialist in the work of Prang, Holzer is probably the best person to write this book on the series of Civil War battle chromolithographs that Prang published in the 1880s. In addition to knowing the period inside out, Holzer has the ability to bring the period to life for today's readers. He has demonstrated this over and over again, especially as a public speaker on Abraham Lincoln and in his position as director of communications at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In this book, Holzer does not disappoint. He makes the reader very curious as to why chromos of Civil War battles were so popular in American homes in the 1880s, and then offers a well-researched, yet lively, explanation for the phenomenon. This book is important, both as a worthy scholarly addendum to Katherine Morrison McClinton's ground-breaking The Chromolithographs of Louis Prang (CH, May'74), and as a vehicle for creating more public interest in the almost forgotten art of chromolithography. Highly recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through faculty. M. W. Sullivan Villanova University

Table of Contents

Prologuep. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
A Note on the Texts to Prang's War Picturesp. 45
The "Full Descriptive Text"
Sheridan's Final Charge at Winchesterp. 1
Laying the Pontons at Fredericksburgp. 57
Sheridan's Ridep. 61
Gettysburgp. 65
Battle of Antietamp. 73
Spotsylvania and the Bloody Anglep. 78
Chattanoogap. 85
Kenesaw Mountain: The Charge of Logan's Corpsp. 90
Holding the Pass at Allatoonap. 95
Siege of Atlantap. 99
Siege of Vicksburg: Assault on Fort Hillp. 104
Battle of Shilohp. 109
The Capture of New Orleansp. 116
Battle between the "Monitor" and "Merrimac"p. 120
Battle of Mobile Bayp. 124
"Kearsarge" and "Alabama": Hauling Down the Flagp. 129
Passing the Batteries at Port Hudsonp. 135
Capture of Fort Fisherp. 140
The Complete Color Portfolio Of "Prang's War Pictures"p. 145
Indexp. 181