As mentioned in the opening paragraph, having the wall return to the landscape was a tremendous tool for determining where the May 3, 1863 image by military photographer Russell was taken. In early October 2004, I began to take test images during pedestrian surveys, gradually finding that the presumed position was far off the mark. Having the great benefit of learning 19th century camera optics from modern day wet plate photographer Robert Szabo, I returned on several occasions to re-shoot and measure until I had found the perfect fit between today's landscape and that recorded just minutes after the Federal success that routed Confederate forces from the scene. In early December 2004, Bob Szabo joined me on location to record a 8 1/2" X 6 1/2" ferrotype image with his period equipment. The resulting image was dead-on and reaffirmed that we had indeed located Russell's camera position. Writing in a 2005 issue of North South Trader's Civil War Magazine, the Park's Chief Historian John Hennessy credits our work for "determining that the location was about 220' farther north than traditionally believed. Based on their meticulous work, the site exhibit that includes the photograph was relocated."
Today's visitor can easily stand in Russell's position by facing southward, standing between the Cobb and Stephens markers, stepping slightly to the left, off center. The first body closest to the viewer lay a mere 20' or so in front of the camera. The current edge of the grass line also approximates the vicinity of the wartime "ditch" which was not feasible to recreate in the modern setting.
One issue that this detailed study also helps determine, in my opinion, is that the "trench" dug approximately five feet behind the wall, is more likely to have served as a drainage ditch rather than a military instrument. The strongest support of this notion rests in the fact that it appears to have continued, outside of the camera's view, in front of the then standing structures of Martha Stephens' modest dwelling. Additionally, there had been a very obvious effort at removing all the resulting earth turned up in creating the ditch, something that just seems out of place if created for military purposes, and its depth and width are negligible if they were intended as a means of additional shelter, even for a second rank of men. Standing soldiers behind a front rank against the wall would not have attempted firing their weapons at that great a spacing.
Of note is the visible home of James Hall, seen just over the wall in Russell's image, at left of center. Hall's house was totally dismantled by soldiers (for its burnable wood) by the time of the next image taken in this vicinity the following year.