Morning Exercise 9-5-14: Photographer Mathew Brady
A letter imagined to have been written by Civil War photographer Mathew Brady to his assistant Alexander Gardner in September 1862.
Delivered by hand to the Willard Hotel, Washington D.C.
352 Pennsylvania Ave, Wash.
I am dashing off this note to you, having been up all night developing the first half dozen of the 92 plates that you have brought from the battlefield at Antietam. Despite the fatigue ensuing upon your labors, and my earnest desire to allow you to convalesce from the shock of what you witnessed in that awful place, I will require your assistance later today, together with that of James and the others.
My hope and plan are to have the photographs ready for public display at our New York gallery by the third week of the next month.
I confess to you that my hand is trembling as I write. Our exhibition will be like no other. You have brought from that purgatory the mangled bodies and tormented souls of those poor men. Now it is for us to lay them upon the streets and doorways of New York. Who will step over them? Who will be able to look away? No one, I tell you.
The papers are saying that twenty thousand were killed and wounded on that one day at Antietam. Twenty thousand! The mind can not encompass the magnitude of that cataclysm. Our eyes, therefore, must do the work. Gazing upon our photographs, the people will commit to memory the true price that is being paid in this horrendous civil war, and in the decades to come, their minds shall never be free from reflecting upon it.
You have my congratulations, sir, and my gratitude. I am
Mathew B. Brady