Friday, July 1, 2011
Gross! What Are They Doing? Latrine at the Fredericksburg Power Canal? A Not So Pleasant Consideration.
Early this morning, while looking through a digital collection of Civil War images from the National Archives, I found a curious detail that I don't recall noticing before. The NA images are scanned at only 300dpi, far less than the Library of Congress Collection, but being originally 8 X 10 glass negatives, there is still a good bit of detail to ponder when enlarged. The particular photograph I examined is the left half of a well known panoramic pair (taken in May 1864), showing the notorious open plain at Fredericksburg. Looking along the left middle ground I traced the water power canal that had served as an obstacle in the Union's December 13, 1862 assault of Marye's Heights. Near the left side of the image there appear to be at least seven and perhaps up to nine or ten soldiers (one has to assume), most in shirt sleeves, probably attending to the call of nature or are about to. It seems like a rather remote location, some 180 yards distance from the camera, which was in the yard of the house known as Federal Hill on Hanover Street. Please, click directly on the image to enlarge for greater detail. I have placed markers over the seven most possible figures.
I'd like to credit National Park Service historian Noel Harrison for providing the link to this collection of National Archives scans. It is available to examine at the link provided here.