The first photographic shots of the Civil War were fired by a Charleston, S.C., man whose collection moved with him to Richmond after the war.
Negatives of the historic photos ended up at the Valentine Richmond History Center after photographer George S. Cook relocated his business from Charleston to Richmond in 1880.
After South Carolina seceded from the United States in December 1860, Cook got requests from New York galleries to photograph the commander of Fort Sumter, Maj. Robert Anderson. Enlisting the governor's wife to make his case for access, he reached Fort Sumter in February 1861, two months before Southerners attacked the fort.
Two years later, when he returned to the Confederate-held Fort Sumter to photograph damage from Union shelling, Cook found himself under fire from three Union ironclads. He climbed up on a parapet to take the first combat photos of the war on Sept. 8, 1863.
Cook, known as the Mathew Brady of the South, managed to keep his studio open because he had invested in blockade ships that could supply him with chemicals, said Bob Zeller, president of the Center for Civil War Photography.
Cook remained in Richmond until his death at age 83 in 1902. His son Huestis, who joined him in the business in the 1880s, continued to run the studio until his death in 1951. The Valentine purchased the Cook Studio inventory from Huestis Cook's widow in 1954.