What may be the earliest film footage from the Civil War era has been discovered in the motion picture vaults at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, where preservation officers plan to immediately begin restoration.
The three-minute reel, which archivists estimate was filmed in 1861 or 1862, reveals an active battlefield as well as behind-the-scenes footage of Union soldiers in encampments and marching in formation.
After finding the unmarked reel and after determining its authenticity, Eastman House contacted filmmaker Ken Burns. He plans to visit the museum immediately to begin research.
“This moving footage would have significantly enhanced my Civil War documentary,” said filmmaker Ken Burns, who earned an Emmy® Award for his nine-part documentary The Civil War (1990), which featured thousands of still photographs. “We are seriously considering opening up the film to include this priceless new material.”
Eastman House preservation staff has painstakingly created digital scans of the rare and fragile footage, allowing for the creation of online video.
Click on the video link below to be among the first to witness history – the first motion pictures ever captured of the Civil War!
Dresden Engle is the Public Relations Manager for George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.