Another attempt to locate the exact position of "A Harvest of Death".

dahenry

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Apr 7, 2012
Found this video on YouTube today, not quite sure what to make of it. The location is apparently along the Mummasburg Road, just below the Forney Farmhouse site, so would likely be first day casualties if correct. You folks that live in the area would have a better idea than I would if his scenario is plausible.
Dave

 

Tom Elmore

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Jan 16, 2015
Scott Hartwig reached that conclusion ten years ago after three decades of study and published his findings in the Civil War Times in October 2011. I thought he made a very compelling case. The dead would have been from the 121st Pennsylvania and 80th New York. The image had long been a mystery, stumping a lot of folks (myself included) - most apparently thought it was taken on the southern end of the field.
 

rob63

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Jul 13, 2012
Location
PA, but still a Hoosier

rob63

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Location
PA, but still a Hoosier
One thing I realized from those videos is that the people that have been trying to figure this out have really put an amazing amount of effort and knowledge into it. One guy wrote a computer program to analyze geologic information for crying out loud! It made me conclude that it's not very likely that somebody is going to stumble upon the sight, particularly someone just using Google maps.
 

rob63

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PA, but still a Hoosier
I now live pretty close to Gettysburg, so decided to go check out these spots for myself. I have to start with a disclaimer. I took my tablet with me so that I could access the video and photos in the links in this thread. Unfortunately, I discovered that once in the sun it became exceeding difficult to see anything at all on the screen. Lesson learned. Thus, although these are the best I could do under the circumstances, it might be possible to do better and I intend to try again with hard copies of the photos.

First up, the op location in the Youtube video near the Mummasburg Road. The best I could do to match them up in both directions was the following:

105A.jpg

100A.jpg

105B.jpg

100B.jpg


It is actually a much better match than I honestly thought it would be. If nothing else, it illustrates how easy it is to find terrain that is at least close.


Now for the Scott Hartwig location:

101A.jpg

100A.jpg

101B.jpg

100B.jpg


I found this less convincing than I thought it would be just because you are so far away from the hill in the background of the last photo. I want to try this again but from a location much closer to the Chambersburg Road to see if the other view would still work.

One problem that jumps out at me right away is that a camera lens doesn't record exactly how it looks to your eye. I wish I knew more about the photography of the era to have a better understanding of how the images made by those cameras would differ from what a modern camera produces.
 

rob63

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PA, but still a Hoosier
Great stuff Rob, if I wasn't so bleary eyed from watching twenty-one videos I might have something constructive to say. I did find this discussion on another forum; it's the author of the video explaining why he chose the Mummasburg location, and then defending his decision to some well informed sceptics: https://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/Forums/Main/Thread/10/36138/0/1

Dave
Thanks for sharing that discussion, fascinating on many levels. All I can say is that all I can argue is whether or not the lay of the land is a possible match, I don't really see the point in stuff like whether two guys in the burial party is actually one guy that moved or not. Interesting stuff nonetheless. I will say that he pretty much loses me when he starts arguing that they are actually laying in the Mummasburg road. I can't buy that a few possible wheel ruts would count as a road.
 

rob63

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PA, but still a Hoosier
I have a question for the collective wisdom of CWT. Watching the various videos and reading the web pages, there is the presumption that these men are Union dead. Is there anything about the cut of the uniforms or something else that indicates that to be the case? I have to admit my ignorance on the details of the clothing. The reason I ask is that I know there are plenty of photos that were once thought to be of Union dead that have since been proven to have been Confederates, leaves me wondering what is different about these fellows?
 

dahenry

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Apr 7, 2012
...all I can argue is whether or not the lay of the land is a possible match, I don't really see the point in stuff like whether two guys in the burial party is actually one guy that moved or not. Interesting stuff nonetheless.

Exactly. Though I do think the discussion about livor mortis is interesting, morbid but interesting. The presence of which seems to indicate (to him) that the bodies have been moved, likely out of the Forney house/hospital. Moving the bodies around seems to be a prominent feature in most of his scenarios, which doesn't seem very probable to me.

...there is the presumption that these men are Union dead. Is there anything about the cut of the uniforms or something else that indicates that to be the case?

Blouses versus coats etc., not my thing, but I'll bet there are folks out there that can give you chapter and verse.

Dave
 

RayDoolittle

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Aug 2, 2019
I believe the speculation about these photos being taken somewhere on the southern portion of the field -- probably somewhere in the vicinity of the Emmitsburg Road -- came primarily from Frassanito's theory that Gardner's crew took ALL their other photos in that area. The photo crew would have arrived via the Emmitsburg Road, took their photographs around the Slaughter Pen, Devil's Den, and the Rose Farm, and their timeline in Gettysburg did not give them room to venture out to the 1st day's field. (Timeline = length of stay in Gettysburg, dates of known photographs, and weather allowing for this type of photography to have taken place.)
 

dahenry

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Apr 7, 2012
I think that's an excellent summary of the likelihood that Gardner's photographers concentrated their activities to the south of Gettysburg, with one small exception, a nit pick really. According to Frassanito, one stereo view was taken of the U.S. Sanitary Commission office at the northwest corner of Baltimore and West Middle Streets. What makes that largely irrelevant to the conversation is that the photo was taken on July 9th, this date being a revision in "Early Photography at Gettysburg" (page 98). Frassanito found new information that indicated the Sanitary Commission first occupied the Fahnestock store on July 8th, and due to a "torrential downpour" (the same day) the photograph was probably taken on the 9th.
 

rob63

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Exactly. Though I do think the discussion about livor mortis is interesting, morbid but interesting. The presence of which seems to indicate (to him) that the bodies have been moved, likely out of the Forney house/hospital. Moving the bodies around seems to be a prominent feature in most of his scenarios, which doesn't seem very probable to me.



Blouses versus coats etc., not my thing, but I'll bet there are folks out there that can give you chapter and verse.

Dave
I agree that his theories about the bodies being moved around are a bit odd. I think a more reasonable explanation for the livor mortis issue is that the position of the bodies inevitably got changed when their equipment was removed. I'm pretty sure that the burial party also would have searched them for anything that would have identified them, and many of them appear to have their coates opened up although that might be due to bloating.

Thus, technically he is correct that they were moved, just not that they were killed at a different location and dragged to that place. It is easy to overthink things when you are trying to justify something.
 

dahenry

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Apr 7, 2012
Thus, technically he is correct that they were moved, just not that they were killed at a different location and dragged to that place. It is easy to overthink things when you are trying to justify something.

Very true, something I tend to do. especially if in a hurry.

I'm sure this isn't an original thought, but what was Gardner doing between July 5th and July 9th? Have to do a little digging in Frassanito unless someone on the forum has the answer.
 

dahenry

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Apr 7, 2012
Thanks for that, definite food for thought. There still appears to be a slight elevation in the background but not nearly as much as in the original photo, while the dead appear to be on a steep slope. According to Frassanito the camera was moved around 135 degrees to take some of the other photos, does your leveling method work on them too?

Edited to add quoted material from "Gettysburg, A Journey in Time", William A. Frassanito, Scribners, 1975, pp. 222 & 224:

" For the majority of the almost sixty Gettysburg titles listed in that publication, Gardner did make an honest effort to describe the views' locations to the best of his knowledge (understandably limited). Typical of his identifications were 'View in Slaughter Pen, foot of Round Tom' (V-17), 'Scene in a wheatfield on the Confederate right'... Gardner, for the most part, was not attempting to fool anyone.

" But of all the titles listed in the 1863 catalogue, one--and only one--stands out as odd. Identified as a 'View in the field on the right wing where General Reynolds fell,' this photograph (13b), an eight-by-ten-inch plate showing several dead soldiers, was the only view in Gardner's entire Gettysburg series to be captioned in the 1863 catalogue as a scene taken on the first day's field.

" Two stereo versions of the identical view also appear in the catalogue. But significantly enough, their identifications made no mention of General Reynolds. The stereo captions read simply 'View in field on right wing' (13a) and 'Federal soldiers as they fell.'

" Additionally, a pair of companion photographs, though not identified as such, were recorded of these same bodies from a completely different camera position and at an angle of roughly 135 degrees clockwise from the other three views. [That the bodies were identical is demonstrated--for the first time--by the diagram on page 223.] The first of the two companion scenes was an eight-by-ten-inch plate entitled 'A Harvest of Death' (14). The second, identical to the first except in stereo form, was listed as 'Evidence of how severe the contest had been on the right.' Again, no mention was made of General Reynolds."
 
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neyankee61

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Oct 30, 2018
Have personal reason for wanting it to be the 5th NJ. I have done a lot research into the 4 NJ regiments that made up the 2nd NJ Brigade and if this is the 5th NJ the boys need to identified even in death. One doubt I have about it being the 5th NJ is the number of bodies in the photo. Though suffering heavy losses in their position as skirmishers in front of Humphreys Division, the body count seems too high. Just my two cents.
 

dahenry

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Apr 7, 2012
You must be talking about the Jerry Coates theory in the Gettysburg Daily link? I think Adelman/Smith snuffed that one out in the very next video, mostly because the angles didn't match looking both directions (see post # 18 above). Can't remember for sure but there may have been a house in existence (along the Emmitsburg Road) during the battle that would have been captured in one of the photos had Coates been correct. I think you are also correct about the number of bodies had this been the 5th New Jersey skirmish line.
 
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