The American Civil War: A Personal Project

Sunday, June 30 – Flight 1908, seat 12D.

Up before dark and aisle seat bound, we rip like a bullet over smeared tones of browns, greens and yellows of early seasonal heartland cash crops.

Arcing east we cross over the Cumberland Plateau blending seamlessly into the ruggedly beautiful ranges of West Virginia and its borders born of the Civil War. Still too high above the clouds to care about the noise we make, we rumble over Northern Virginia.

Finally across the historically strategic Potomac River, we continue north and finally to the crossroad junction at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

For the next four days, I’ll be exploring Gettysburg, PA revisiting the battlefields surrounding this small town now synonymous with the bloody slog that raged 150 years ago this week, July 1-4, 1863.



  1. 16,800,000 visitors tour American Civil War battlefields and memorial cites in 2011 and 2012.
  2. Gettysburg National Military Park received 2,300,000 visitors in 2011 and 2012.
  3. An Additional 1,000,000 visitors are expected to swell the yearly average of 1,500,000.
  4. An estimated 200,000 will flood the area June 28 – July 7, 2013 alone to participate in the sesquicentennial events surrounding the battles at Gettysburg.
  5. Gettysburg is home to 7,600 residents living and working within eye-shot of the infamous battlefields.

Since 2011 I have been revisiting the American Civil War through this personal project which strives to provide a modern look at the War and encourages a revitalized interest through current visual media platforms: Instagram and Tumblr.

This project was given new life through the use of the ‘single-story’ platform, by not just allowing the exploring of history but by allowing the exploring of the future of how we will collectively share, gather and publish memories across multiple platforms.

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The project also works as a relief mechanism that allows for further understanding of the Iraq War of my brother, the Vietnam War of my father, the WWII of my grandfather and the Confederate Civil War history of my great-great-great-grandfather.

ABOVE: My great-great-great-grandfather Robert Kerr Wallace who served in the 7th North Carolina Cavalry, Company B, CSA.

Walking these Civil War battlefields at dawn on the actual day and time 150 years after the fact visually transports me from research to a deeper understanding and empathy for those who fought all our nation’s wars.


ABOVE: In this same Antietam cornfield, on this day and hour, it’s impossible to not imagine this IS what troops saw at dawn September 17, 1862. The causalities at Antietam were staggering. An hour later, 150 years ago September 17, this view would become the bloodied and devastated landscape that would change how Americans view death and effect political policies of what soon becomes ‘total war’.

My overall goal is to build a renewed visual conversation around the American Civil War. By interviewing and photographing reenactors, historians and tourists, I hope to put a modern face on war, especially the Civil War.

Check out my work latest work from Gettysburg by searching #the150project on Instagram and visit the project’s dedicated Tumblr at for videos, photos and maps.

I look forward to hearing from those interested in the War’s lasting impact and those sometimes sudden and unexpected brushes with this chapter in American history.


Nathan W. Armes
Editorial and Commercial Photographer
Denver, Colorado


  1. Tim Tallent
    July 4, 2013

    My mother Grace is very close to your grandmother. They both talk about you often. I enjoyed reading your blog and work on The 150 Project first thing this July 4th morning. Especially enjoyed the info on your family including Stephen who I thought about many times during the early days of the Iraq War in 2003. I look forward to following your journey.

    Best –


  2. Nathan W. Armes
    July 4, 2013


    Thank you for taking the time to read about the project. Please pass along my hellos.

    Happy 4th!



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