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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Photo reveals Fredericksburg Landscape in 1866

It's always exciting to find new images to study. A batch of previously unseen stereoviews from the April 1866 Bontecou expedition has been revealed, and they fill a few holes in the 121 image series. Until now, there were only about 65% of the series known to exist in any printed form. Unfortunately, all the glass negatives have long vanished, including the number that had been apparently purloined from the Surgeon General's collection by assistant George Oscar Brown, and later published under his name while setting up his post-military career in Baltimore, Maryland. Previous posts on this blog have gone into further detail on my research into the series, and can be found by following this link by clicking here.

One of the new views, from The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, is labeled as being taken from the Shakespeare Hotel, in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The immediate problem with that captioning is that the Shakespeare Hotel, located in the 800 block of Caroline Street, had been completely destroyed by fire in November 1865, as detailed by NPS historian Noel Harrison, in his 1995 book, Fredericksburg Civil War Sites, April 1861-November 1862, published by H. E. Howard, Inc., Lynchburg, Virginia.

What the photo does reveal, as we can see in its middle distance, is that it is actually looking southwest, and was taken from the top floor of the Planter's Hotel, on the intersection of William and Charles Street's northwest corner, at 401 William Street. 

Just above the wide chimney dominating the foreground, we can see the Old City Burial Ground, now the site of Hurkamp Park. On the other side of that cemetery's western wall, is the now also moved, Cemetery of Masonic Lodge #63. Beyond that, we have a nice view of structures on Liberty Street. And, along the horizon, Hanover Street, running up the heights at left, with Brompton faintly visible among the trees. Also note the covered wagons parked on William Street at lower left. They would be sitting in front of what is today, Paymon Fine Rug Imports at 501 William Street.
Here is the still standing western wall of the Old City Burial Grounds, running along the eastern wall of 520 William Street, which occupies the site of the Cemetery of Masonic Lodge #63.

At the left of the foreground, we can see three buildings along the south side of William Street, of which only two remain standing today, which comprise Ristoranti Renato, at 422 William Street.

At upper right, beyond both cemeteries, and standing on the corner of William and Liberty Streets, is 600 William, the current home of Primavera, Pizzeria and Grill.

Here is a view of the Planters Hotel building, looking west, seen in an early 20th century photograph long after it had ceased operations as a hotel, and had become the offices of  "R. T. Knox and Brother", producers of sumac extract and bone meal. The Bontecou photograph was taken from one of the top floor windows that looked to the west, on the other side of the building. The false front and wide chimney of a neighboring business can be seen at the extreme left. That structure no longer stands, but is the source of the large chimney in the middle foreground of the Bontecou stereoview image.

Below, we can see the top floor dormer window from which the Bontecou photo was taken.
It is the window at center.


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.