Battle of Antietam, lithographed by Max Rosenthal and published by William Smith in Philadelphia in 1865, offers a detailed depiction of one of the Civil War's most pivotal confrontations. Centered on the engagement and its key figures, the lithograph prominently features a Signal Officer delivering a message to Generals Van Veck, McClellan, Marcy, and Barry, among others. Situated in the backdrop of this lithographic representation are the images of the battlefield and the formations of both Confederate and Union forces.
The Battle of Antietam, fought in 1862, stands as the bloodiest single-day battle in American history. It marked a significant turning point in the Civil War, as the Union's halting of Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North led President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation shortly after. This proclamation fundamentally transformed the nature of the conflict, transitioning it from a struggle for the preservation of the Union to a fight for human freedom.
Max Rosenthal's lithography stands as a testament to the precision and care taken in representing historical events during the mid-19th century. His inclusion of significant figures and intricate details of the battlefield suggests a dedication to accuracy and a desire to preserve the memory of this crucial event. The lithograph, printed at L.N.Rosenthal's establishment on Walnut St., Philadelphia, further underscores the interconnected networks of artists, printers, and publishers in the post-war American landscape.
The publication by William Smith, a notable printseller of the time, underscores the importance and demand for such visual representations in the aftermath of the war. As the nation grappled with the trauma and ramifications of the Civil War, such lithographs served not only as educational tools but also as memorabilia, capturing the collective memory and emotions of a deeply divided nation seeking understanding and reconciliation.