August 17, 1864 (Wednesday)
Andrew Riddle was a photographer well before the war, learning the trade in 1846. Five years later, he opened his own studio in Baltimore. In 1856, he moved to Columbus, Georgia and continued his profession, opening a couple of branch studios in Macon and Rome.
When the war broke out, he moved his studio to Richmond, but was hardly content in staying in the city. In October of 1862, he was captured attempting to smuggle photographic supplies from Washington. While the supplies were confiscated, he was allowed to go free. Undaunted, a few months later, he was captured yet again for the same offense and sentenced to eight months in prison.
Once again free, he returned to Macon, but was conscripted as a private in the engineer corps. The Confederacy used him as a map maker and a photographer – the only official one in the entire South. This was how he found himself at Andersonville on this date.
The photographs were taken on the 16th and developed on the 17th (which was when they were dated). These were the only photographs ever taken of Federal prisoners in a Confederate prison camp.
In August of 1864, Andersonville contained over 30,000 inmates in their twenty-acres plot.
On this date, over 100 prisoners of war died, joining 6,000 of their comrades in the nearby cemetery.
Riddle used a printing process that created an “albumen silver print.” Invented in 1850, it was very much like a “peel-apart” Polaroid, which easily produced a paper photograph from a negative. You can see more about it here.
The text used for the captions was nicked from the Andersonville National Park Service site.