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Studying the Art of War

Studying the Art of War

Publisher: Alexander Gardner

Medium: Photographic print

Shelfmark: 1784.a.13.1_f090r

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photographer: Alexander Gardner

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This image, Studying the Art of War, was captured by Gardner at Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia, in June 1863. It depicts four officers in the Union Army and a foreign military observer. Gardner’s description names them all, from left-to-right: Major Ludlow, Colonel Ulric Dahlgren (standing), Lieutenant-Colonel Dickson ('wearing a straw hat'), Count Zeppelin and Lieutenant Rosencranz. Dickson and Zeppelin appear to be commenting on a copy of Sun Tzu’s famous military text The Art of War.

Gardner also provides some description about the character and military career of these men, particularly focusing on Dahlgren who died in 1864 during a Union raid on Richmond. Described as 'handsome, chivalric, one the bravest of the brave', he was implicated in the so-called 'Dahlgren Affair' after papers were found on his body which suggested he was part of a plot to assassinate Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Colonel Dickson would participate in the Battle of Gettysburg just a few weeks after this photograph was taken. He was wounded in the fighting and retired from military service. Lieutenant Rosencranz was a Swedish-born officer who served as an aide-de-camp to several prominent Union generals.

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin 'of the Prussian army' was one of several foreign military observers in the Civil War. During 1863 he traveled with Union forces before visiting other parts of America. While in Minnesota he traveled in an air balloon, an event which impacted Zeppelin’s later ideas for airship construction.

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