John Ellis Wool
1784 - 1869
John E. Wool served more than fifty years in the United States Army. In 1812 he organized a volunteer brigade in the war against England, and he ended his career in 1863, as the army's fourth-ranking general, head of the Department of the East. Wool was known for his severe discipline, while his "audacity and control" inspired comparisons to the Roman general Xenophon. In 1836, Wool drove the Cherokee Nation west over the "Trail of Tears," and from 1854 to 1857, as commander of the Department of the Pacific, he again suppressed Indian uprisings. Wool organized more than 12,000 troops for Zachary Taylor , during the Mexican American War, where his service in the Battle of Buena Vista won him an official thanks from Congress. In 1861, Wool secured the strategic Fortress Monroe in Virginia for the Union; in 1863, while stationed in New York City, he successfully quelled draft riots there.

Brady and Alonzo Chappel collaborated on this colorful portrait around 1858, when Wool was a well-known war hero. Chappel also engraved this image for Battles of the United States by Sea and Land, a deluxe two-volume illustrated history. With its showy display of costume and rigorous rendering of features, this image exemplifies the distinctive style of painted photographic portraiture that Brady and Chappel developed to serve commercial publishers and patriotic audiences.

Alonzo Chappel (1828 - 1887)
Oil on canvas, circa 1858 59 x 44.4 cm (23 1/4 x 17 1/2 inches)
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.