Alexander Gardner (photographer) MM Lodge St.George No. 333
andrew gardner
Alexander Gardner was born in Paisley on the 17th October 1821. He became an apprentice jeweller at the age of 14 lasting 7 years. On the 10th of July 1854, aged 33, he was Initiated in to Lodge Port Dundas & Cowcaddens St.George No.333 (Name changed in 1869).
In 1850 Gardner and others purchased land near Monona, Iowa but Gardner never lived there, opting to return to Scotland to raise more money. He stayed in Scotland till 1856, becoming owner and editor of the Glasgow Sentinel in 1851, visiting the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London. He saw the photography of American Mathew Brady and this began his interest in the subject.
In 1856 Alex and his family emigrated to the U.S.A and lived in New York. He initiated contact with Mathew and worked for him until 1862. In 1858 Brady put him in charge of is Washington D.C gallery.
In 1860 Abraham Lincoln became President and along with his election came the threat of Civil War. Gardner being in Washington was well positioned to capture the events of soldiers leaving for war. With the start of the Civil War, demand for portrait photos increased, Gardner became one of the top photographers in this field.
In November 1861 Gardner was granted the rank of Honorary Captain on the staff of General George McClellan, This put him in a position to photograph the aftermath of America's bloodiest day, the Battle of Antietam.
battle of antietam
This photo depicts future 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.
ulysses s grant
Gardner also covered the battles of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and Petersburg. He also took what is considered to be the last photograph of Abraham Lincoln just 5 days before his assassination.
lincoln last picture
Gardner would go onto photograph the conspirators who were convicted of killing Lincoln, as well as their execution.
execution of lincoln conspirators
After the war Gardner gave up photography, Gardner stayed in Washington, he became sick in late autumn and died at his home on December 10th 1882.
In 1893, photographer J. Watson Porter, who had worked for Gardner years before, tracked down hundreds of glass negatives made by Gardner, that had been left in an old house in Washington where Gardner had lived. The result was a story in the Washington Post and renewed interest in Gardner's photographs.He was buried in local Glenwood Cemetery alongide some other Presidents, US Representatives, Opera Singers and Albert Gallatin MacKey, physician and primary founder of Scottish Rite Freemasonry.
Alan Duthie
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