Amazing American Civil War photos turned into glorious colour

Colour photography may not have been widely used until the 1930s, but that hasn’t stopped an active group of Redditors from looking to change the past. On the Colorized History Subreddit, Redditors use photo manipulation to add colour to historical black-and-white images.

Two of the most prolific users, Mads Dahl Madsen and Jordan J. Lloyd (who has since started Dynachrome, a digital image restoration agency), have done US history a favour by taking a number of the Civil War photographs available at the Library of Congress and turning them into realistic and beautiful looking colour.

As photography was not invented until the 1820s, the Civil War was one of the first wars to be photographed. Famous photographers such as Mathew Brady and his apprentice Alexander Gardner made it their duty to capture the country’s tragic war for posterity, with a variety of portraits of officers and soldiers and scenes of daily life and the aftermath of battles. At the time, cameras were not able to accurately capture motion, so there are few, if any, photos of actual battles in action.

This photo depicts President Ulysses S. Grant (pictured in the center, at the time a lieutenant general), his friend Brigadier General John Rawlins (left), and an unknown lieutenant colonel in 1865.

Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and his personal friend, Brigadier General John Rawlins, and an unknown Lieutenant Colonel, at Grants headquarters at City Point, 1865

Colour by Reddit User Zuzahin/Photo Courtesy of National Archives

Union Captain Cunningham poses next to the command tent in Bealeton, Va., 1863. Cunningham was a member of the staff of Brigadier General Thomas F. Meagher, who commanded a primarily Irish contingent during the Civil War.

Colour by Jordan J. Lloyd/Dynamichrome/ Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

This photo by Mathew Brady, the most famous Civil War photographer, portrays three Confederate prisoners at Gettysburg, Pa. in 1863.

Colour by Jordan J. Lloyd/Dynamichrome/Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

Union officers of the 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry reclining at Westover Landing in August of 1862

This photo by Alexander Gardner, originally Brady’s apprentice, depicts Union Colonel James H. Childs (middle, standing) and several other officers at Westover Landing, Va. in 1862. Childs was later killed at the Battle of Antietam, the single bloodiest day in American history. A total of 22,717 soldiers were either killed, injured, or missing in action that day.

Colour by Mads Dahl Madsen/Photo From Library Of Congress

This is Major General Ambrose Burnside, the commander of the Union Army of the Potomac. He is best known for leading the army to a crushing defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg and for his distinctive facial hair, which later became known as the — you guessed it — sideburn.

General Ambrose Burnside

Mads Madsen/Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

This photograph by Andrew Gardner depicts the staff of Brigadier General Andrew Porter in 1862. George Custer (of the Battle of Little Bighorn fame) is shown reclining next to a dog on the right.

The staff of Andrew Porter with George A. Custer reclining next to a dog, 1862

Colour by Reddit User Zuzahin/Photo by Andrew Gardner

This is a portrait of General William Tecumseh Sherman in civilian clothes. During Sherman’s famous “March to the Sea,” the Union Army destroyed nearly everything in its path, both military and civilian, on its way to Savannah, Ga.

William Tecumseh Sherman, the first 'Modern General', seen in civil clothes

Colour by Reddit User Zuzahin/Photo Courtesy Library of Congress

Confederate General Robert E. Lee at his home in Richmond, Va. less than a week after surrendering.

Robert E. Lee At Arlington

Colour by Reddit User Zuzahin/Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

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