Roger Fenton's Crimean War photo series is the first historic attempt to portray war campaign with the help of new magic photo media, then still in its infancy. Sent as a replacement for the Richard Nicklin, a civilian photographer, who was lost at sea, along with his assistants, photographs, and equipment, when their ship sank during the hurricane that stuck the harbor at Balaklava on November 14, 1854. Fenton spend March-June 1855 in Crimea as an official campaign photographer, payed by the British government, recording participants and landscapes for posterity. These records never managed to capture battles, explosions, devastations, wounds, blood and tears, partly due to the limitations of photographic techniques of the period, but also because of official wish to glamorize the war and shift public attention away from government and military mismanagement, for which Crimean campaign became infamously known. However no text descriptions, drawings or paintings wouldn’t be able to surpass realism of Fenton’s photo of the besieged Sebastopol; the main allies ports at Kamiesh and Balaclava; mortar batteries, field trains, camps and everyday camp life; portraits of legendary allies leaders: Lord Raglan, Lord George Page, General Pennefather, Sir John Brown, Sir Colin Campbell, commander of the “Thin Red Line”; French Maréchal Pélissier, General Bosquet, “Little Nephew of the Great Uncle” Prince Napoleon; Turkish Ismail Pacha and Omar Pacha; officers of the Guards regiments, colorful highlanders and zouaves, sergeants, soldiers, orderlies, reverends, Royal comissioners, railway engineers, camp followers, laborers, fellow artists, war correspondents and civilian travellers. With the end of the Crimean War, quite modest public interest in Fenton's photos quickly faded away, in 1862 he left photography for good, dying several years later, financially broken and almost forgotten. In our days, however, historians unanimously recognize Fenton's remarkable accomplishments not only for his keen artistic eye and seminal role in establish photography as an artistic endeavor, but also honor him as one of the first professional war photographers. (LC stands for Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number).
[SPOILER=Some of the photos]
Captain Bathurst, Grenadier Guards. LC-USZC4-9114
Cornet Henry John Wilkin, 11th Hussars. LC-USZC4-9124
Field train, horse artillery. Horse team pulling a gun carriage. LC-USZC4-9218
Two officers of the 47th Regiment. LC-USZC4-9219
Major Adolphus Burton & officers of the 5th Dragoon Guards. LC-USZC4-9220
Encampment of the 71st Regiment at Balaclava commissariat camp, Tents and huts of British camps on hillside and valley at Balaklava. LC-USZC4-9208.
Lieutenant General Sir John L. Pennefather & orderly in uniform of 4th Light Dragoons. LC-USZC4-9223.
Captain Bernard, 5th Dragoon Guards, seated on a horse with "V DG" on bags. LC-USZC4-9224.
Officers of the 90th Regiment of Foot (Perthshire Volunteers) Light Infantry. LC-USZC4-9225.
Captain Lord Balgonie, Grenadier Guards. LC-USZC4-9226
Captain Cuninghame, 42nd Royal Highland Regiment. LC-USZC4-9227
Captain Burnaby, Grenadier Guards. LC-USZC4-9228
Railway officials, messrs. Swan, Cadell, Middleton, Howse, & Kellock. LC-USZC4-9229
Colonel Doherty, officers & men of the 13th Light Dragoons, including Colonel Doherty, Cornet Danzil Chamberlayne, Captain Jenyns, and veterinary-surgeon Thomas Towers. LC-USZC4-9230
Captain Charles Aug. Drake Halford, 5th Dragoons. LC-USZC4-9231
Lieutenant Colonel Seymour, Fusilier Guards. LC-USZC4-9234
Lieutenant General Sir George Brown G.C.B. & officers of his Light Division staff Major Hallewell, Colonel Brownrigg, orderly, Colonel Airey, Captain Pearson, Captain Markham, Captain Ponsonby. LC-USZC4-9235
Captain Walker, 30th Regiment, reading general orders. LC- USZC4-9236
Lieutenant Colonel William Munro & officers of the 39th Regiment. LC-USZC4-9125.
Lieutenant Temple Godman, 5th Dragoons, standing next to his horse (the Earl); his servant, Kilburn, stands on the left. LC- USZC4-9239
Major Keane, on the staff at Balaklava. LC-USZC4-9242
Captain King, horse artillery. LC-USZC4-9243
Major General Sir George Buller, K.C.B. LC-USZC4-9244
The sanitary commission. Dr. John Sutherland is sitting on table, facing right, and Robert Rawlinson, sitting on chair. LC-USZC4-9246
Major General Sir R. Dacres, Captain Hamley & Colonel Adye. LC-USZC4-9247
Lieutenant General Sir George Brown, G.C.B., K.H. LC-USZC4-9250
See more of these remarkable photos here.