The Southern Cause by Thomas A. Daniel

In this powerful collection of over one hundred images and testimonies, award-winning photographer Thomas Daniel has documented the world of Civil War reenactors—men, women and children who recreate and relive one of the most turbulent and tragic periods in American history. These images capture the reenactors’ genuine passion to educate, to celebrate and honor the past, and in some cases, to trace their own ancestry. They capture the fanatical devotion of some to the Southern cause, and what it means to be a son or daughter of the South. Their stories also allow us to more fully understand the complexities of this remarkable group and its often misunderstood and controversial flag.

This is a journey to a world few of us know, where the battles of Antietam, Gettysburg, and Harpers Ferry still live, where Confederate and Union soldiers skirmish, and reenactors labor to duplicate historical truth down to the smallest recorded detail. Their dedication to honest and genuine portrayal is clearly evident in these photographs, in their stories, and in their willingness to bear the discomforts of cold, rain, and mud to live the truth of those who died on the battlefields.

Over recent years, Daniel has traveled the South to interview and photograph this society of reenactors—Northerners, Southerners, Native Americans, and African Americans who share their own individual motives for creating this living history. As Daniel himself writes in the introduction, this book is not to recreate the battles, the reasons for the war, or to argue who won or lost, but to capture all the myriad reasons why men and women dress and live the part of confederate and union soldiers. Their reasons are as candid and diverse as the men and women who live the life of reenactors. The photographs that follow, however, are the most memorable. They alone tell revealing, unforgettable stories.

About the Artist

Thomas A. Daniel, born in 1948 in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a son of the South. A veteran of the Viet Nam War, he began his photographic career in South Viet Nam. He went on to receive his BFA in communications, art and design from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), his MA in photography from Goddard College, and his MFA in photo/film from VCU. He later returned to VCU as a Distinguished Visiting Artist in Photography.

Mr. Daniel’s first photographs were of war and are in the permanent collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and in the publication of war photographs titled, The Indelible Image; Photographs of war-1846 to the Present. Two monographs, titled Thomas Daniel and Into My Eyes, present Mr. Daniel’s extensive black-and-white documentary. Other permanent collections include the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, Virginia) and the William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut (Storrs, Connecticut). VCU’s Anderson Gallery holds the largest collection of his work. A four-time winner of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship, Mr. Daniel’s work has been shown in over 200 exhibits throughout the United States and abroad. One of his favorite exhibits, Anderson Gallery’s show, The Bad Boys of Photography, puts Mr. Daniel in the company of photography greats Danny Lyon, Bruce Davidson, Manuel Alverez Bravo, and Aaron Siskind.

Considered an “underground legend,” Mr. Daniel’s photographs are both a compassionate and unflinching look at society’s fringe cultures from the enobling and beautiful to abject and tragic. In Remarkable Modernisms, John Yau, poet and art critic, states that Daniel’s work “uses the camera to explore his own tenderness…not to delineate separation.” He is labeled a “New Critical piety” in Yau’s essays.