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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Harvest of Death vs Garry Adelman

Since Garry Adelman has chosen to go after the work I have done on the "Harvest of Death" images, yet again, five years after his initial efforts, and state that he "looks forward" to my rebuttal, what I'll do here is take a point by point approach to Garry's recent video installment on Gettysburg Daily. Garry talks real fast, as usual, in his video, and makes use of smoke and mirrors (unless he really believes these things), in a frantic display of sleight of hand and magician's banter.

At 1:41 he asserts that I "misunderstood" him when he pointed to a tree (which he described as "distinctive" in the original video), when I placed a tree symbol to the left of the photo's center line, as a place-marker on the Google Earth map.

Here he is in the original video, filmed February 5, 2012, pointing to the tree he wants me to correlate with the Gutekunst photo. Bear in mind, this video was made in an incorrect site, not the location I have presented for years now, along Reynolds Avenue. Thus, other points he makes in the 2012 video have no basis in relation to my work as it has stood for years since. Note also, he is using the photo with the grave diggers, which skews the centering further to the left, but now, in the new video, he asserts it is the "right side" of the image, when my marker is "on the left" as he enthusiastically points out. And note, my map says "Vicinity of Garry's tree". Go and look at it.
Here then, circled in red, would this be the "Garry tree?" on the wider view, which would of course, shift the center line. If this isn't Garry's tree, the spot he's pointing to, then which one is it? But that's really irrelevant, as this is a ridiculous challenge, presented with an air of authority. I placed a marker right where he pointed, just for the heck of it, and then he proceeds to say its elsewhere. And no, Garry, I will not make any effort to satisfy your demand that I locate this one tree, tucked into a bend in the tree line, from the Gutekunst view. Who can not see that that demand is really quite absurd?

At 1:57, Garry then goes to a place marker for the Dustman property on my map and begins to go into hysterics as he claims I have put the Dustman house itself too close to the road. If he would be honest, he'd see that I had outlined the Thompson House in red, but made no effort to do so on the Dustman House, choosing only to tag the property line which divides the two, with a black line. It was never an effort to define the Dustman House itself. See for yourself, below. It's a place-marker. He knows I know where the Dustman house was, he and I discussed it briefly when I questioned him about finding its foundation when the restaurant was torn down. I might, if I was to be a real jerk, ask him why it was placed downhill on a CWT fundraising map, back when the restoration project was getting under way. But I won't. After all, he was in charge of the project.
Here, below, is a version I did in 2015, with both Thompson and Dustman outlined in red, just for information sake. I was always under the impression that a portion of the original Dustman foundation was integrated into the east entrance of the restaurant, but Garry said the archaeologists found nothing. Interesting. But I digress...
But here he is below, anyway, taking delight at claiming I'm incorrect, at 2:01. He continues to make up things that he wants you to believe I would say to "excuse" this, but if, again, he was honest, and had actually read all my material instead of selective interpretation on his part, he would know that I in fact have made it quite clear that the Dustman House IS ALSO IN THE PICTURE!!! But, he's too busy trying to claim I am an ignorant fool. Here is the link to my posting of October 1, 2015 that provides overlay images in a video, where I toggle back and forth, mentioning the location of Dustman on top of the restaurant. Watch it. Apparently Garry did not, or perhaps, forgot. Still he goes on to claim these assertions of his, are a "hallmark" of what I do. He's claiming I find excuses for things he asserts are problematic with my material. Far from it.
Now, at 2:39, Garry claims he has something that I have "chosen not to address", and he goes on to talk about the location of trees, and their leaves, "crawling all over" the Thompson House. He states they are "clearly on the north side" of the road. He goes on to claim that these branches, "touching the Thompson House", must be visible in all other views. Here is the problem though with what he asserts. The branch he points to, "touching" the house, is an orchard tree on the south side of the road. Let's look.
Here's the crop. Is the tree on the north side "crawling all over the house? It looks to me that the tree in the orchard, on the south side of the road, is the one that appears to touch the house, or "crawling", as Garry described it. Click on any of these images for larger viewing.

 Now, below, is an additional image, taken the same day as the above image, looking from a more eastward camera position, about 33 yards or so, east of the previous, without the branches touching. But that's not all. Garry also claims those trees are on the south side of the road after claiming they are on the north side, as he says, they are "below" the ridge. Fact is, the Gardner image shows trees on both sides of the road, orchard trees on the south, and much larger trees on the north side, layered over each other, giving an impression of one massive tree. But, that doesn't play well with his attack on me.  
But Garry goes on from there to say that in my camera position, roughly 430 some yards to the southwest, mostly west, across from the Reynolds monument, my camera angle (according to Garry) is so divergent from the Brady camera angle, that the branches (again!) would be "even more" touching and over hanging the Thompson House. Plus, he asserts my (Gardner's) camera position would show the Thompson House at an increased angle, thus throwing off my use of image comparison with Brady's. Below, I provide a map to illustrate that the two photographer's camera angles are virtually the same. I turned the orientation of the map to replicate the Gardner field of view as if seen straight on. The map compass is there, so don't freak out, you can still see where north is. I marked Brady's position with a "B", across from Thompson, outlined in bright red, and Gardner with a "G", toward the bottom of the view, Note Gardner's right angle of view, in yellow, follows all the way up to the Brady position. Does not look too divergent to me. One point I'm not even going to dignify is his assertion regarding the north chimney on the Thompson house. It is there, blending into the roof line, but I'll let him figure that out. One has to remember, Garry insists that individual fence posts should be visible, despite the effects of aerial perspective. He has demanded elements of clarity should exist while ignoring the reality that this image suffers from pronounced atmospheric issues on the horizon line. Repeatedly I have explained all the elements he questions in those regards and he ignores them. And yes, broad areas of light and dark do present correlation of these shapes, thus a white picket fence can appear as a distinct area of white, without having to show individual pickets. 
Be sure to click on these images for larger viewing.
From there, Garry goes on the claim I ignore trees that were standing in the Gardner view, yet those mid ground trees are a prominent feature in my work, as they stand along a fence line that cuts across the Gardner images at a slight diagonal, and are discussed repeatedly throughout my numerous presentations. Once more, for ease sake, here is the link I shared earlier, and in it the discussion of those trees, and fence, are a main point of discussion.
But, and here is the clincher, on November 4, 2015, I posted stereoscopic comparisons, with the period image and a modern views, demonstrating how the terrain is identical. But Garry makes no mention of that, at least as of this writing. Here is the link.

Finally (hardly!), Garry begins to throw in things to characterize, he says, my explaining away or making excuses for things, even throwing in a wild remark about the Thompson House moving, as though I've ever suggested that. He is trying to paint me as crazy. And just when one would think he is running out of gas, he begins to attack my other assertions, that the other view, the actual "Harvest of Death" images, have been modified, in both the full plate and stereo, when I have, in other postings, made it quite clear they were, in Gardner's effort to make a poignant best seller. I have even gone to the source, the Library of Congress, and provided evidence of masking on the actual stereo glass negative. The full plate image, especially the Chrysler Collection print, provides clear evidence of modification. That modification has been pointed out in a series of progressive alterations which ultimately ended with the iconic "Harvest of Death" view, which captured the hearts of viewers for a century and a half. With manipulated features! Here are the links to both stereo and plate examinations. 

OK, finally, you'll see, as Garry nears completion of his six minute video, he begins to get very insulting and mocking of me, trying to give the viewer the general impression that this is what I have been doing, for over five years mind you. He likens me to the character Vizzini, in the movie, Princess Bride. How sweet. And with that he proclaims, "You have the wrong site."

If you haven't had enough of this, be sure to see Garry's video #33 at the end of his Gettysburg Daily post. He plays with a wooden house and grass, trying to further explain the "touching" and "crawling tree" concept.

Really fun.

Friday, September 16, 2016

And Just Like That - GONE! The Minor House is no more...

     Some final photographs delivered by our friend Stephen Masters, who has been on-site today, documenting the tragic loss of one of Northern Virginia's historic treasures. Admittedly, the Minor House was lost before today due to obscurity. With additions and expansions during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the house faded from view. Its historical importance forgotten as the neighborhood grew around it, only to be revealed at the eleventh hour like so many preservation losses, usually too late to have a happy ending.
     Stephen has logged many personal hours in an effort to save the Minor House. Sadly, the battle is lost. I am very appreciative of Stephen's determination and his continual updates.
     These final images show the remnants of the log structure and stone fireplace, its hearths having seen innumerable faces warming themselves since possibly the late 1700s. Thus is the passage of the centuries, and the fading of memories.
     Attached, by this link, is a pdf report of historical assessment by Fairfax County ARB and History Commission.

As always, click on any of the following images for larger viewing.

 Note the extending length of the chimney as the house grew around it vertically.

 The triangular design fireplace once served separate rooms. 

The Minor House - Supplemental Photographs as the clock keeps ticking...

     More modern images from our friend Stephen Masters. As the bulldozer draws nearer, here are some then and now glimpses. Many thanks to Stephen for his work on trying to save this landmark.
Please read my prior posts on the history of this structure. For those of you coming in new, the original Minor House was a log structure with wood siding. By the early 20th century there was a brick facade added as well as a second floor. There were later expansions and additions. Currently, the oldest section remains, but it is coming down soon to make way for new homes as has been done in the surrounding neighborhood.
     Besides its Civil War history, as recorded in photographs taken in January 1862, the house was also the site of refuge for Dolley Madison during the British burning of government buildings in Washington, D.C., including the Capital and White House, in 1814.

 January 1862
September 15, 2016
Where the Union observation and signal tower stood.

 Large Union encampments covered the fields beyond the hill,
now the site of suburban sprawl. nearly 155 years later.
Review of the 17th New York Infantry at Minors Hill.
Their encampment is seen behind.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Minor House - Coming Down! History Lost

Our friend Stephen Masters brings us very sad news today. The Minor House is coming down. When an asking price of two million, and a 24 hour deadline produced no results, the bulldozers began to remove the early twentieth century expansion of the house. As seen in the following photos, the door and window openings of the original section are quite apparent, despite the overlay of brick on the log structure, and the addition of a second floor.
See our prior posts in July and August regarding the history and location of the structure.

The first image is the most telling, and brings us to the only "then and now" that we will ever see, as the entire structure will soon be leveled.

September 15, 2016.
Photo by Stephen Masters
The tower stood among the debris pile.
January 1862
September 15, 2016
Photo by Stephen Masters

September 15, 2016
Photo by Stephen Masters
General McClellan stood in front of this doorway, as seen in the 
January 1862 photograph below. The original camera position would
 have been located in the area behind the red truck, seen at right.

As close as we will ever see.

Monday, August 15, 2016

McClellan at Minor House, Fairfax County, Virginia - Then and Now (Updated)

     Sadly, the much altered original structure is about to meet the wrecking ball, but thanks to our intrepid reader, Stephen Masters, we are able to provide a then and now look at the spot where General McClellan posed with other officers on the front lawn of the house, in January 1862.
See also the July 24 post linked here.

January 1862. McClellan at center with hand on stump.

     August 2016. This is the best, approximate angle available today due to the hedges in front of the house. The stump would have sat just inside the ell-shaped bend in front of the tree and hedge, at center. Of course, the original camera angle is coming on a diagonal to the left, from the right, as illustrated in my scale diagram below.

     McClellan's position is indicated by the red dot, to the right of the stump, indicated in brown.
The larger brown dot is the approximate location of the larger, mangled tree in the left, rear distance of the January 1862 photograph. Four approximate post locations mark the nearby signal and observation tower, to the right.

     Here are two additional views of the front entrance to the original house, approximating the angle of the McClellan photo, but from a much tighter camera position, so that the wing at left is visible. Both photos supplied courtesy of Stephen Masters. For clarification to those who are just now coming into this information, the original log structure (which had board siding) was bricked over many years ago, turned into a two-story structure and had an addition attached to the east face.

The neighborhood today.
Close up with the original house, outlined in red. Tower to the right.
Original camera position indicated, looking northwest.
View showing tower to east of the Minor House.

     There is also a much larger history to the Minor House and its property beyond the McClellan photograph, one that includes the fact that both President James Madison and wife Dolley came here as the government fled the burning of Washington in 1814. The President arrived here looking for his wife but not finding her, continued on to Falls Church. Dolley arrived later and is said to have spent two nights there. 

Additional information can be found at the Wikipedia link provided by clicking here.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Blog Reader Locates Minor House - Soon to be demolished! Updated 7/25/2016

Recently, a reader of this site, Stephen Masters, left comments to this blog's August and October 2013 postings regarding the location of the Minor House in Fairfax County, Virginia. On a site once inside the Falls Church boundary, the original structure has been absorbed by several additions since the Civil War, and is currently slated to be demolished to make way for new construction. Masters has indicated he will supply images of the interior of the building, detailing the original log walls and chimney.

The site is approximately 430 yards slightly northwest of my previous suggested location. There had been prior indication that the house was long demolished.

This is all exciting, yet sad news if the building will not be preserved. It is fortunate that we can now know the true location of the following January 1862 photographs, including one that shows General McClellan meeting with officers outside.
Click on images for larger examination.

 "Then", in January 1862.
 This is an approximate "now" image of the above January 1862 photograph,
courtesy of Google Earth Street View. The trees unfortunately block the building, at center.

View from Google Earth indicating the original structure, outlined in red, and the approximate location of the nearby signal tower, also marked in red. Click image for larger examination.
The McClellan mystery photo as solved in the August 19, 2013 posting. Click link.

My previous site suggestion appeared in the October 2, 2013 posting, to which Stephen Masters commented recently, alerting us to the true location and impending demolition.

As stated in the beginning of this update, we were hopeful to have
 photographs of the structure as it stands today, both inside and exterior.
Below, with kind permission of Stephen Masters, here are comparison 
images of the structure as it stands today. More will be posted soon.

 The original building is the left hand portion, since converted to two-story.
Circled is a side entrance on the east face, as it appeared in 1862.
Further enlargement of the entrance.
Stephen Master's view of that side entrance as it looks today.
The original log structure was bricked over.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Supplemental Material re: blog post of May 25, 2016. Image details, and Lt. Ames' fate.

     An observation made during an all over review of yesterday's primary image, reveals what is apparently the coat and sword belt of Battery G's captain, Nelson Ames, hanging from the branches of the tree above the seated group. It is easy to distinguish the scabbard of the saber (perhaps an 1840 model?), as well as the holster for a revolver and the hanger straps. The coat has captains shoulder bars. Captain Nelson Ames was the cousin of Lieutenant Albert N. Ames, author of the letter quoted here in the May 25th post. Nelson is referred to as " The Capt." in Albert's letter, and can be seen with his back essentially to the camera, blurred from movement during the image exposure.
     Not an earth shattering detail, but interesting to note, and otherwise missed.

 The detail.
The full image.

     Albert was mortally wounded by a sharpshooter near Petersburg on September 26, 1864, at Fort Morton, about a third of a mile east of the site of the Crater. He was less than a month shy of his 26th birthday.
     Below is the New York, Civil War Muster Roll Abstract for Lt. Albert N. Ames

1st Lieutenant Albert N. Ames
Identified by his own description, noted in his May 29, 1864 letter home.

"I sat in a Rebel chair also, with a towel over my lap, a tin plate on the towel, 
in my shirt sleeves and my cap off..."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Question of Date: North Anna Photographs Re-examined, 152 years later...

     It has been said that several images taken by photographer Timothy O'Sullivan along the North Anna River were made on May 25, 1864. The first we see here, looking to the southwest, across a reversed section of Henagan's Redoubt, has been dated to the 25th since the publication of William A. Frassanito's, Grant and Lee, The Virginia Campaigns 1864-1865, published in 1983.
     In 1998, a regimental history for the 7th New York Heavy Artillery was published in a limited first edition of 1,000 copies, entitled, Carnival of Blood, by Robert Keating. Discussing the activities of the regiment on May 25, Keating quotes a letter written by a 1st Lieutenant from the 1st New York Light Artillery, Battery G, Albert Ames. The Ames letter was written to his family on May 29, and in great detail describes the making of the photograph. The full image is seen below, followed by the quoted section of the letter.

" will see the officers of our Battery at dinner. The Capt. sits in a Rebel chair taken from a house demolished, and I sat in a Rebel chair also, with a towel over my lap, a tin plate on the towel, in my shirt sleeves and my cap off...the men, part of them laying around under the shade made by pieces of tents and on feather beds, some on a mattress, some had old dresses for pillows taken from the ruins of the house...." 
     As you can see, every detail is as Ames describes it, written within less than a week of the image being taken. Bear in mind, photographer O'Sullivan was not creating prints of his images out in the field, so it's not as if Ames was looking at the finished product. He was graphically recounting the particulars of the moment. The original letter is in the New York State Library in a collection of Ames' papers, donated by a family member. A link to that inventory can be found here.

     An additional image, seen below, taken within the same time frame as the previous, was earlier presented in one of my blog posts from 2012, and can be found at this link.

     On March 21st, 2012, a follower of this blog named Andy, commented regarding the earlier posting, that due to the Ames quote, the soldiers seen in the photograph would be members of 2nd Corps regiments, something that is contrary to the fact that the 2nd Corps had been relocated to the south side of the river not long after 5:30 PM on the previous day, May 24. However...
     Not having seen the entire contents of the Ames letter yet myself, it is uncertain if it was Ames providing an incorrect date (but clearly not the wrong details) of O'Sullivan's image taking, or did Robert Keating make an assumption on the date of the photographs from having familiarity with William Frassanito's work on the subject? Could this image have actually been taken on May 24? This would imply an interruption in O'Sullivan's creation of the series of photos taken around the Chesterfield Bridge area, something not totally inconceivable. Thus, assertions that soldiers seen in both images here are members of 9th Corps units is suspect since they would not have occupied this position until late on the 24th and into the 25th. 
     Additionally, the Library of Congress holds in its collection a print from O'Sullivan's stereo negative with other images identified as the Chesterfield Bridge area, bearing a May 24 date, written on its mount. These are post-war printings, glued on pages similar to those in the MOLLUS collection with a printing date of 1884.That image is seen below.

     Lastly, for added interest sake, friend and fellow blogger John Banks kindly assembled a slider version of my then and now pairing from the 2012 posting. Grab the toggle at center with your cursor and move it back and forth.