Conrad Wise Chapman (1842-1910) was the son of John Gadsby Chapman. Born in Washington, DC, he spent much of his childhood in Europe, where his father worked as a painter. In 1861, Chapman returned to the United States and enlisted with Co. D, 3rd Kentucky Infantry Volunteers. Through his father's connections, he was later transferred to the 59th Virginia Infantry. By September 1863, the unit was sent to Charleston, South Carolina, then besieged by Union gunboats. At the time, General P.G.T. Beauregard was actively overseeing the strengthening and re-fortification of Charleston Harbor's defensive works. Chapman was detailed to document the fortifications by making sketches of them for the Ordnance Bureau in Richmond.
Chapman was granted a furlough and departed for Rome in March, 1864, where over the next year, 25 oil paintings based on the sketches were created by him, with five also being done by his father. He did not achieve the commercial success his artistic talents warranted. After the war, he painted in Rome, Paris, London, Mexico, and New York, but struggled with ill health and poverty. He was living in Hampton, Virginia at the time of his death.
John Gadsby Chapman (1808-1889) was a native Virginian who studied painting in Philadelphia. He lived and worked in both Europe and North America. He was a popular illustrator in the 1830s and 1840s, but is best known for his history paintings based on the English settlement at Jamestown. He painted five of the works in this series of the Charleston defenses.