Thursday, December 5, 2013

Franklin, TN Civil War Show and other events this weekend

I will be in Tennessee this weekend for some events and book signings. Here's my schedule for anyone who's in the area and interested in stopping by:

Dec. 7 and 8: Middle Tennessee Civil War Show
Dec. 8: Barnes and Noble in Brentwood at 2 pm
Dec. 8: Landmark Booksellers in Franklin at 4:30 pm

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Discussion and book signing at Beauvoir on November 30

I had a great book signing at Lemuria in Jackson, MS last week. Next up - a presentation and book signing at Beauvoir in Biloxi, MS on November 30. Details posted below. Hope you can join us.

My March 2014 Virginia book tour is also coming together nicely. I'm looking forward to events at many historical societies and museums throughout the state. The full schedule will be posted here when available.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Upcoming article in Military Images

I received the exciting news recently that an article based upon a section of my new book Robert E. Lee in War and Peace will appear in the December issue of Military Images magazine. The article describes a Robert E. Lee photograph we were not supposed to see. Military Images magazine is a premier publication which for many years has been the unchallenged leader in its field. There is no better example of the quality of their work than the striking photograph on the cover of their upcoming issue.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Prints from Photographs, Part 2 of 2

During the Civil War there was at least one woodcut engraving of General Lee based on a drawing made in the field, rather than a photograph. In late 1862 or early 1863, Frank Vizetelly of the Illustrated London News sketched General Lee at his headquarters near Fredericksburg.

Engraving based on sketch by Frank Vizetelly for the
Illustrated London NewsFebruary 14, 1863.

It is quite possible (the author considers it likely) that Vizetelly’s drawing was made a few weeks before General Lee donned his dress uniform for the so-called “booted and spurred” photograph made by Daniel T. Cowell. General Lee was not known to have worn such formal military attire except on special occasions. A woodcut engraving derived from Minnis and Cowell’s “booted and spurred” photograph appeared on the front of Harper’s Weekly in July 1864. Oddly enough Lee’s middle name “Edward” was misspelled as “Edmund” in the caption of this illustration.

The Rebel General Robert Edmund Lee, Harper’s Weekly, July 2, 1864.
Examination of a well-known print of General Lee as a civilian shows him seated in a comfortable looking chair. It is obviously derived from the famous “clock” portrait made in early 1866 by Mathew Brady of Washington, D.C. For years, this sitting for Brady in Washington was deemed to have occurred in 1869. However, this print, published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, firmly establishes that the photograph was made before March 24, 1866.

Engraving based on Mathew Brady’s clock portrait of 1866 in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, March 24, 1866.

These printed engravings are quite interesting when compared alongside their corresponding photographs. Those printed in dated periodical publications can help determine the time period when the original photograph was taken.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Comments from my book publisher

Copies of my new book Robert E. Lee in War and Peace, published by Savas Beatie, arrived last week. Savas Beatie Managing Director Ted Savas posted some comments about the book on his blog recently. I am copying them below. Brings back a lot of memories for many of us.

Savas Beatie is collecting orders for personally signed copies, so please email if you'd like a copy signed by me. Makes a great present.


A slew of new books arrived just yesterday, which as you can imagine is always a fun day at the office. Opening those boxes is a lot like Christmas--many times a year.

The Civil War Lover's Guide to New York City, by Bill Morgan;

Battle of Big Bethel: Crucial Clash in Early Civil War Virginia, by J. Michael Cobb, Edward B. Hicks, and Wythe Holt; and

Robert E. Lee in War and Peace: The Photographic History of a confederate and American Icon, by Donald A. Hopkins, M.D.

I am of course excited by all three, but the Lee book intrigues me for many reasons, and one in particular.

As a kid I spent hours laying on my bedroom floor studying Roy Meredith's The Face of Robert E. Lee in Life and Legend (1947). It simply fascinated me. I recall using a magnifying class to study the details (I used that same glass on the same floor to try and make sense of the ridiculously small map details in Murfin's Antietam study Gleam of Bayonets, which I loved, and still do to this day).

Meredith's study is now 60+ years old and as I discovered from Dr. Hopkins's work, loaded with mistakes and woefully incomplete. Little did I know that one day I would publish what I sincerely believe is the definitive book on this topic.

Hopkins's new tome has every known Lee image, with tons of info on the photography, Lee himself, his history, and much much more. It is also professionally designed inside on photo-matte paper by Mason City friend Jim Zach, who has done many of our jackets and the inside of several books). It is also oversize at 7 x 10.

I sincerely hope you enjoy it.



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Prints from Photographs, Part 1 of 2

After reports of Robert E. Lee’s exploits during the Mexican War in 1846 began to appear in newspapers, his name became more and more familiar to the reading public. His renown increased even more in 1859 when he led U.S. Marines who captured John Brown during his attempted slave insurrection at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Editors and publishers noting Lee’s rising prominence in military matters, began to seek representative images of him for their readers, and over the next few years woodcuts and steel engravings began to appear in print in both the North and the South.

During the early 1800s, printmakers and engravers primarily based their work on paintings, drawings, or other artistic renderings, but after 1850, they increasingly based their work on photographs of their subject. Engravings of Lee that appeared in print in the U.S. during this time were no different.

The artist preparing an engraving usually “improved” or “enhanced” the original photographic presentation, sometimes extensively. Therefore, knowing when the engraved interpretation of a particular photograph was first published establishes for certain that the original photograph upon which it was based was made prior to that date.

Steel engraving by A. H. Ritchie based on “West Point” photograph. Published as a photograph in 1861.

An interesting woodcut engraving based on a fanciful steel engraving by A. H. Ritchie was published in the North in August 1861.  According to the publisher this woodcut engraving was derived from a photograph by Mathew Brady.

The Rebel General Lee, woodcut based on photograph by Mathew Brady, in Harper’s Weekly, August 24, 1861.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Here is an interview that my publisher Savas Beatie conducted with me about Robert E. Lee in War and Peace. Copies are scheduled to ship from the printer at the end of the month!

SB: Why did you decide to write your book about Robert E. Lee?

DAH: I have had a lifelong interest in Southern history, the American Civil War, and historical research in general. Naturally, I began to accumulate related artifacts, documents, and photographs of the period for my own collection. As years went by I began to buy and sell such items at collector’s shows and antique shops. Two facts began to stand out:

1. The “go to” source, or bible if you will, relating to photographs of Robert E. Lee is a well-known book first published in 1947. If I wanted to know who made a photograph of Lee or when it was made, I was directed to check it out in Roy Meredith’s, The Face of Robert E. Lee in Life and Legend.

2. When I began seriously studying Lee photographs, I noted that many inaccuracies and omissions of this book have simply been carried forward by later authors without the benefit of more research. Therefore, many of the period photographs found on the tables at shows and in the showcases of well-known dealers were improperly described with respect to date and photographer.

It appeared to me that an updated reference on photographs of Robert E. Lee would be timely, as well as an interesting research project.

SB: What makes Robert E. Lee in War and Peace unique from other books on the same topic?

DAH: It is a more complete atlas of Robert E. Lee photographs than any other. All currently known life images of the General are presented, many more than in any other volume. Also, for the first time, a book on Lee photographs discusses in some detail the photographic techniques used. You see, Lee’s adult life paralleled the development of photography in America; therefore you see photographs of him using the different techniques available at the time. Much more information on his photographers, both northern and southern, is presented than in other books on this topic as well.

SB: What are some features of your book that you think readers will really enjoy?

DAH: In general, I believe they will like my chronological arrangement photographs, from the earliest known to the last photograph taken in his life, each discussed in detail as to who took it and when, as well as a discussion which outlines how I reached my conclusions. Furthermore, it is readily apparent that Savas Beatie LLC spared no expense in producing beautiful images for the book.

SB: Is there anything controversial in your book?

DAH: Yes. There are always naysayers and doubters when their ingrained beliefs are challenged, especially if their treasured photograph is not what they thought as reflected in their asking price. The most controversial topic relates to exactly what is a “from life photograph” of Lee (or anyone else). Of the many hundreds of Lee photographs available from dealers, collectors, and auction houses described as, or insinuated to be, “from life,” only a handful were truly made from the negative produced as the General sat in front of the camera. Most by far are copies made later by one technique or another.

SB: Where did you find the photographs for your book?

DAH: Over the years I have accumulated for my own collection several Robert E. Lee photographs. In fact, detailed study of these photographs is what generated the spark of an idea for this book. Afterwards, I searched the well-known national repositories for Lee photographs as well as archival collections in museums, university libraries, and historical societies, copying photographs and noting their source. I also found a few in private collections but one of the more productive areas was in the catalogs of auction houses. A few photographs of Lee, unknown to me at the time, were found on internet sites. One of my more startling discoveries was on the wall of my own study. I had a framed photograph that I had owned for some time thinking it was simply a copy of a well-known image of Lee. As I studied its details, I learned that it was a virtually unknown photograph that had never been published! I wrote an article about it for The North South Trader magazine.

SB: Where did you conduct your research?

DAH: Much of my research was on site in Virginia at places like VMI, Washington and Lee University, The Museum of the Confederacy, The Virginia Historical Society, and The Valentine History Center. Other research was accomplished at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Alabama Department of Archives and History. However, there is no question that most of my research hours were spent in front of my computer at home looking at websites, auction catalog archives, current auctions, and dealer catalogs. I also learned a great deal in my email communications with interested scholars, dealers, and collectors.

SB: What qualifies you to write, basically a reference book, on Robert E. Lee photographs?

DAH: It is certainly not that I have any significant literary qualifications. I have written a couple of books including The Little Jeff: Jeff Davis Legion, Cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia and Horsemen of the Jeff Davis Legion. I have written magazine articles, one about a Lee photograph and others medically related. I believe my best qualification for this project was that I recognized the inaccuracies and omissions throughout the available sources related to Robert E. Lee photographs and felt compelled to “set the record straight” to the best of my ability. My professional background as a physician who must pay attention to tiny details to be successful was also helpful. I consider myself an historical researcher first and a writer second.

SB: Who will find your book most useful?

DAH: When considering such a narrow subject as photographs of Robert E. Lee one instinctively assumes that it will appeal only to serious students of the subject, and certainly I expect this relatively small group to appreciate (and criticize) my book. I tried to broaden the interest by discussing photographic techniques of the period as well as photographers both north and south who took photographs of Lee or sold copies of his image. Those interested in 19th century photography and photographers should find it interesting and useful from this aspect. Those collectors and dealers who want accurate and up-to-date information about their Lee photographs as well as Civil War photographs in general should enjoy it. Finally, the layout and presentation of this book as done by Savas Beatie LLC would grace the library or coffee table of anyone interested in the history of the South.

SB: Do you consider your book to be the final word on Robert E. Lee photographs?

DAH: Absolutely not. I do consider it the most complete and accurate study of the subject available today. I even have a chapter near the end which discusses four or five photographic sittings of Lee that at this time cannot definitively be placed as to time or place they were made; and there remains uncertainty as to the original photographer. This small collection discussed in the chapter entitled “Mysteries of Time and Place” will most certainly generate differing opinions among those interested in the topic and, as time goes by and with further study, concrete facts about these photographs will emerge.

SB: Thank you for your time, we appreciate it.

DAH: You're welcome.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Debut Event

I am told that copies of my book will ship from the printer at the end of the month. My first book signing event is scheduled for October 19 at the Lake Caroline Craft Show in Madison, MS. If you are in the area, please stop by.

I will also have a table at the Middle Tennessee Civil War Show in Franklin, TN on December 7 and 8. Additional events will be added to our event calendar as they are confirmed.

Also, I am constantly seeking original or copies of original Robert E. Lee photos for future publication. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any images to discuss.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book trailer for Robert E. Lee in War and Peace

Book publisher Savas Beatie created this book trailer for my upcoming release Robert E. Lee in War and Peace. It's a nice presentation, and sneak peek at the types of photos that appear in the book. Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Welcome and book information

Welcome, and thanks for visiting my blog. I am starting this to coincide with the release of my book Robert E. Lee in War and Peace: The Photographic History of a Confederate and American Icon. In the coming weeks and months, I will post addition information about the book, as well as post new articles about Robert E. Lee photographs, antique photography, Civil War photographs, and more. Thanks for stopping by.