The Ohio Historical Society recently acquired a rare photograph by Matthew Brady of Civil War General Philip Sheridan with his staff. It is now on display in the Ohio in the War at the Ohio Historical Center.
The size of the photograph is one of its unique features. Measuring approximately 20 by 22 inches, it is known as a “Mammoth” size photograph. Techniques to enlarge photographs were primitive in the 1860s. Mammoth size prints were made from glass plate negatives that were equally large.
The Society wanted to add this photograph to our permanent collections because Philip Sheridan was from Somerset in Perry County, Ohio. Sheridan is pictured in the center and he is flanked on the left and right by 17 officers on his staff during the Civil War. The officers are identified by rank and surname and include his brother, Captain Michael Sheridan. Sheridan was known as “Little Phil.” His short stature is readily apparent in this image as all of his officers are taller.
I discussed the date of the photograph with one of our resident military historians, John Haas. He believes that this photograph dates from later in the Civil War after Sheridan was promoted to Major General. The clue is the number of officers that are pictured with Sheridan. This number of staff would have been needed by only the highest ranking officers.
We hope you will stop by the History Center to see this photograph for yourself.
L. Wood, Curator for Visual Resources