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Acumen Digital Archives Explorer: The Civil War

Helpful information about navigating the Digital Collections at UA, with collection highlights organized by subject.

Diaries and Letters

Collections with materials pertaining to the Civil War can be found by searching Acumen with the phrase "civil war."

Below are some of the collections which have been digitized.

Art: Life Studies of the Great Army

Edwin Forbes's Life Studies of the Great Army provides a unique, artistic perspective on the Civil War.

Illustration of a battle scene, Civil War
Forbes' career as an illustrator began in 1861 when he became a staff artist for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and was sent to cover the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac. He followed the Union Army from Cross Keys in the Shenandoah Valley to the battles at Manassas in 1862 and the siege of Petersburg in 1864. Making quick sketches on the battlefields, he refined them later before sending them to New York for publication.
illustration of a soldier on horseback, Civil War


He had a strategic spot to observe the Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, and he was the first of the "special artists" to produce drawings of the battle to send to Leslie's. He resigned from Leslie's in 1864, but he continued to produce images of the war. Many of these drawings were made into copper plate etchings and published as Life Studies of the Great Army (1876).


two Civil War illustrations; top: soldiers on a hillside with a canon; bottom: men in a line shooting guns