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IHS Press

Blood Shed in This War: Civil War Illustrations by Captain Adolph Metzner, 32nd Indiana

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Captain Adolph G. Metzner's stunning visual diary of sketches, drawings, and watercolors depict his world during three years of service with the First German, Thirty-second Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry campaigning in the Western Theater during the Civil  War. Metzner chronicled the day-to-day life of a soldier's world, at first with humor, and later, with a stark reality of life and death on the battlefield.  Metzner was born on August 16, 1834, in a village in the southwestern corner of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. In 1856 he immigrated to the United States, establishing himself as a druggist in Louisville,  Kentucky. Four months after the start of the Civil War, the young druggist traveled to Indianapolis to assist in organizing a German regiment.  Once encamped with the Thirty-second, Metzner immediately began to set his impressions down on paper, recording the regiment's activity with details as vividly descriptive as any written word and creating a  series of caricatures of his associates with a tinge of comical  exaggeration likely influenced by the subject. With the initial loss of comrades at the battle of Rowlett's Station, Kentucky, on December 17, 1861, Metzner's art changed. From that point on his work showed  the turmoil and struggle the men experienced through Shiloh and General Braxton Bragg's invasion of Kentucky to Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and culminating with the move on Atlanta.  After being wounded at Chickamauga, Metzner returned to Indianapolis,  and his artwork went into storage with the remainder of his war gear. He did, however, create one postwar oil painting, a beautiful 18 ½ x > 23 ¼ oil on canvas that appears to be a culmination of his study of man, horse, and motion. The end result shows the depth of one who has  witnessed war, or who has "seen the elephant," as Civil War veterans called it. 

Hardcover. 142 pages. 2010, Indiana Historical Society Press. By Michael A. Peake.