The material that Homer collected as an artist-correspondent during the Civil War provided the subjects for his first oil paintings. In 1866, one year after the war ended and four years after he reputedly began to paint in oil, Homer completed this picture, a work that established his reputation. It represents an actual scene from the war in which a Union officer, Brigadier General Francis Channing Barlow (1834-1896), captured several Confederate officers on June 21, 1864. The background depicts the battlefield at Petersburg, Virginia. Infrared photography and numerous studies indicate that the painting underwent many changes in the course of completion.