Theodore R. Davis – Special Artist for Harper’s Weekly

With a long diverse career as an illustrator, especially of civil war subjects, Theodore Davis, known as Theo, is said to have “covered more areas of the fighting than any other artist.” His work was highly detailed in documenting people and places, and much of it resulted from hurried notes he took during battles. He was wounded twice and had his horse shot out from under him.

In his Civil War reporting, he worked for Harper’s , but traveled with William H. Russell, a neutral British journalist, and told people he was an artist for the Illustrated London News. This way, he also served as a spy for the North because he learned much about Southern weaponry. Sometimes he was in the center of the action, especially when he traveled with General Grant’s staff at the Vicksburg campaign and was part of General Sherman’s March to the Sea.

After the war, he continued reportorial work for Harper’s Weekly, recording Southern reconstruction and traveling extensively in the Far West. He was one of the first artists to document the Sioux Indians, and in 1865, helped fight against one of their attacks on an Overland Stage leaving Atchison, Kansas. He was with General Custer in 1867 and traveled with Hancock’s Indian Expedition in 1867. Towards the end of his career, he retired to Asbury Park, New Jersey to do free-lance work. He was a consultant on the cyclorama painting projects and for the July, 1889 issue of St. Nicholas magazine, wrote a treatise titled How a Battle is Sketched.

A chronological (incomplete) list of his travels during the Civil War

(Davis had over 250 of his illustrations appear in Harper’s during the war.)

March Washington DC
Annapolis, MD
Early April Tour of the South begins with William Howard Russell, foreign correspondent of the London Times. Davis claims to be employed with the Illustrated London News.
April Richmond, VA
April 16 Charleston, SC
May Fort Pulaski, GA
Montgomery, AL
Pensacola, FL
Mobile, AL
New Orleans, LA
On the Mississippi River
Memphis, TN
Late May Fortress Monroe, VA
July 3 Martinsburg, VA (William’s Brigade)
Carondelet, MO
Cairo, IL
March 9 Hampton Roads, VA
? Corinth, MS
September New York, NY
Harrisburg, PA
Hagerstown, MD
November Thoroughfare Gap, VA

April Mississippi River during the campaign against Vicksburg, MS (with Grant)
Steele’s Bayou, MS on the Yazoo River
May Raymond, MS
May 14 Jackson, MS
May16 Champion’s Hill, MS
May 17 Black River Bridge, MS

May-July Investment of Vicksburg, MS (with Logan’s Div.)
October Chattanooga, TN (with Grant)

? Knoxville, TN
May March to Atlanta (with Sherman)
May 14 Resaca, New Hope Church, Kennesaw Mt., GA
July Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, GA
August March to the Sea (with Sherman)
December Savannah, GA

February 17 Columbia, SC
February 25 Pocotaligo Depot, SC
March Swamp Crossings, SC