Garry Adelman at Antietam with a historic photo of Captain J.M. Knap's Penn. Independent Battery "E" Light Artillery
American Battlefield Trust

Step Into History

Experience Civil War Photography Firsthand

Step Into History with us and explore the stories behind some of the Civil War's most famous photographs.

The Latest Videos

Join host Garry Adelman in our latest video series, Step Into History, and delve into the tales that reside within historic battlefield photographs. These captivating videos – also available in 360º virtual reality – combine contemporary video and animation methods, enabling viewers to accompany Garry as he strolls through historical pictures and divulges the stories behind the scenes immortalized on film.

Watch the videos below and subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with our latest releases.

Step Into Ulysses S. Grant's Council of War

On May 21, 1864 war photographer Timothy O'Sullivan took a series of photos of Ulysses S. Grant's Council of War during the Overland Campaign. The photos were taken on the upper level of the Massaponax Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Va. Garry Adelman and Kris White of the American Battlefield Trust break down these historic shots. (Runtime 6:00)

Step Into the Historic Photo of The Gettysburg Address

Garry Adelman and Chris Gwinn visit the location where Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address and "step in" to the famous 1863 photograph. View the 360° version of the video. (Runtime 3:06)

Step Into The Sunken Road at Fredericksburg

Kris White visits the location of Andrew Russell's famous 1863 photograph at the Sunken Road after the Second Battle of Fredericksburg. View the 360° version of the video. (Runtime 5:30)

Step Into a Historic Photo at Antietam's Dunker Church

Step into history with Garry as he stands where Alexander Gardner did as he took his famous 1862 photo of the Dunker church after the Battle of Antietam. See it in 360° Virtual Reality. (Runtime 1:30)

Step Into a Historic Photo at the Burnside Bridge

Step into an 1862 Alexander Gardner photograph showing Civil War graves at the Burnside Bridge after the Battle of Antietam. See it in 360° Virtual Reality. (Runtime 1:04)

Step Into a Historic Photo at Antietam's Hagerstown Pike

Step into Alexander Gardner's famous 1862 photograph of the Confederate dead along the Hagerstown Pike at Antietam. See it in 360° Virtual Reality. (Runtime 1:04)


Step Into a Historic Photo of Artillery at Antietam

Step into Alexander Gardner's photograph taken on September 20, 1862 of Pennsylvania Battery E, also known as Knap's Battery at Antietam near the Dunker Church. See it in 360° Virtual Reality. (Runtime 1:39)


Alexander Gardner's famous photo of Confederate dead before the Dunker Church on the Antietam Battlefield
A photograph of a sunny day at Dunker Church at Antietam National Battlefield
Confederate Dead Along the Hagerstown Turnpike

About This Project

From the moment our good friends at Wide Awake Films said that they likely had the ability to immerse a viewer in a historic image, we were all ears!  Over the last several years we discussed how we might do this.  Which images would be of both public interest and still look sufficiently similar today?  Which devices should the user employ?

We finally settled upon a test on the Antietam Battlefield during the 160th anniversary commemoration in September 2022.  Our chief historian happened to be dressed in quasi-historic photograph garb which was all the better.  We shot the videos in very few takes but not without complexity—how do you shoot a 360-degree video at ground level without the videographer being visible? Wide Awake Films figured out a way by shooting two 180-degree halves on the same path and stitching them together.

Once we had the raw footage Wide Awake worked through the complexities of overlaying the image, moving into the layers of the photograph, and exporting both standard and 360-degree versions.  The result, plus music and other tweaks, is what you see in this series, and we are curious to know how you enjoy the videos and why.

The right portion of a 3-D photo taken by Alexander Gardner labeled “Soldier standing at graves of Federal soldiers, along stone fence, at Burnside Bridge, Antietam, Maryland."
View of the Rohrbach Bridge (later renamed Burnside's Bridge) over the Antietam Creek.
Knap's Pennsylvania Battery
Two trees set against a vivid purple sky at Antietam National Battlefield