Updated. See additional material at end of post.
On November 16, 2007, USA Today ran a front page article proclaiming that a member of the Center for Civil War Photography had discovered two new images of President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. Stating that the "discovery" doubled the known images of the President on the day he delivered his Gettysburg Address, the article, and subsequent press release from the CCWP, described how the President could be seen riding through the crowd, saluting soldiers with his left hand. Upon seeing the images, acclaimed Lincoln scholar, Harold Holzer is quoted, "All I can say is, Wow! Unbelievable." President of the CCWP, Bob Zeller proclaimed, "I think it’s one of the most significant Civil War photographic discoveries in quite some time. It’s as if we can ask a Civil War photographer to go back out on the field and take just a couple of more shots of the greatest president in American history."
But, what do these photographs, taken as stereo pairs, actually show? The images are derived from glass negatives taken by Alexander Gardner, and are available for inspection via the Library of Congress website's, Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. Three exposures from virtually the same camera position survive today. Gardner's camera was either purposely, or accidentally moved to the right in the third image of the sequence. The timing of the three images is easily determined by the change in location of various individuals, and a horse-drawn vehicle in the first and second, as well as by the clear movement of a shadow along the west wall of the Evergreen Cemetery gate. Below are the left-hand portion of the three stereo negatives, in order of their creation. Click on these and all images presented, for a larger view.
T". At right, a grouping of spectators that maintain their relative position, marked as "3". The figure that was said to be the "saluting" Lincoln, is marked by "1", and a horse-drawn carriage, driving toward the right, is marked as "2". This first image here, was incorrectly considered to be the second image by the CCWP.
1", has actually not moved from his previous position, yet the horse-drawn carriage, "2", has advanced closer to the group of spectators, "3". The carriage drivers are easily discernible. The foreground figures are getting settled on their mounts. Nobody seems to be focused on the figure said to be Lincoln. The specators at right appear to be more interested in what is happening further to the right (their left), on the speaker's platform.
1". The horse-drawn carriage, "2", has parked and there is an individual seated on its hard top roof. The driver is still seated. The group of spectators at far right have maintained their spots, looking toward the speaker's platform, and the tree at far left has of course stood vigilant throughout.
And one additional thought to this consideration: Why is the focus of the crowd in this detail below, placed on the apparent speaker's platform, still, if the President has either not yet arrived or is leaving, based on the CCWP presentation? This detail is extracted from the very same image that provides the so called "saluting" Lincoln, the first image in the series. And, you will see, at now far left, the group of spectators that I had previously tagged with a "3", staring toward the center, along with everyone else it now seems. If the President of the United States was far off to the left from this view, why wouldn't the attention be focused on that fact? No, I have to say, Lincoln is already on the speaker's platform in this and the other two images. The third image, based on the absolute look of boredom and the stacked arms of the soldiers, gives me reason to believe that it is during Mr. Everett's agonizingly long speech.