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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gettysburg's Harvest of Death - The Trump Card?

 It contains the most current information.
Also updated in the body of this post below. See red text.

     Yesterday, in a comment to my initial post on the Harvest of Death images, blog reader Phil Spaugy said...
"The problem I have with this view, is the lack of confederate dead, or the signs of freshly dug graves."

     This is a very good point, and one that I had not given much thought to during my examinations of these images since my concentration has been, till now, on the exposures taken by Timothy O'Sullivan which include what I believe is the Thompson house on the north side of Chambersburg Road, rather than the James Gibson exposures which do not include the house. The O'Sullivan images suffer from an as of yet firmly explained lack of strong detail beyond the fence running across the middle ground. This fence is what I consider to be the northernmost of two fences that contained a field running roughly northwest to southeast, toward Seminary Ridge, from the woodlot where General Reynolds was killed on July 1, 1863. Now, looking at the Gibson exposures, I notice that the area beyond this fence is a slight bit richer in detail than O'Sullivan's, and seems to contain what may be the solidifying clue to this series' location.
     Mr. Spaugy's point is well taken, and I answered his comment by pointing out the lack of detail where the graves of the Confederates should be, simply based on the O'Sullivan exposures, however, now considering the Gibson exposures, I believe we have indication of the Confederate burials right where they should be. I had also suggested that the Confederate dead had been buried in the days following the fight on Seminary Ridge as the ground remained under Confederate control. The Union dead were left in situ after being relieved of usable clothes, valuables and equipment. A print from the Library of Congress collection is seen below.

The contrast is sharper and the details stronger in this print of James Gibson's exposure.

 An enlargement of the middle area of the above print reveals a potential clue...
 A white balance adjustment provides somewhat better contrast within the detail...
 Beyond the fence pile, running at a diagonal, as indicated by the annotating arrow, are we able to see crudely marked grave rows? Elliott's burial map places graves within this proposed field of view.
Continuing right, along with the possible graves, are we also able to see a breastwork, or more graves? Based on Elliott's map, these would all be Confederate burials.
Update: 2/25/2013, based on more current consideration, the suggested "breastwork" noted above, may in fact be the Chambersburg Pike and a few visible fence posts. This study continues to be fluid.

Note the similarity of crudely marked graves from this 1866 image taken near the Wilderness Battlefield. This image and its location are examined in this blog's previous post from 2-29-12.


HankC said...

Is there a connection between the pile of fence rails down the slope in the 'harvest of death' photo and the pile of rails in the background of another image:

both locales have (apparently numerous) CSA graves, random shrubbery and uphill vistas...

HankC said...

it appears that adelman and smith have finished their 'rebuttal' and not addresses any of your fine and compelling points...

John said...

Nice analyzation of the apparent CS graves in the background, which most likely would have been dead from Alfred Scales' North Carolina brigade devastated in this locale by the First Corps during their last stand on Seminary Ridge on July 1. This detail is easily missed in most prints of this image other than the hi-resolution images avaialable from LOC. The argument for this location is stronger despite the weak argument against it by Gary and Tim on Gettysburg Daily.

John Cummings said...

I will be posting a follow-up piece once I make a return trip to the field in mid June. This will contain a summation of all the details that round this investigation out. It will answer a lot of questions.
Thank you for your comment and for visiting the blog.
John Cummings

HankC said...

I think you're spot on.

Can you point out, on your reference map, the railroad cut and Gutekunst's position where he took his photo facing west up the pike?

is the thompson house in Gutekunst's photo?

John Cummings said...

The railroad cut is running parrallel to the Chambersburg Pike, above the Thompson House. Gutekunst's position was about a half a mile further to the right (east) than my reference map shows, on the Chambersburg Pike. The Gutekunst photo does not show the Thompson House, its roof is blocked by a tree along the horizon line.
I will be posting all of these details and more in the near future, after my return visit to Gettysburg.
Thank you for following and your comments.
John Cummings