Assorted Images of Grave Diggers

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#1
Undated Gravedigger.jpg

Cold Harbor, 1865
Dead Confederates at Gettysburg.jpg

Fredericksburg, 1864

Gravediggers.jpg

Undated, Source Unknown

These images will never cease to haunt me, it is so easy to forget the mortality of warfare beyond numbers and dates until it is thrown on your doorstep in it's visual form. I cannot imagine the kinds of corpses grave diggers encountered on a regular basis or the lasting psychological effect of such exposure to vast amounts of mangled unidentifiable bodies.

EDIT: Title and sourcing adjustments in light of more accurate information.​
 
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James N.

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Not to be too much of a nitpicker, but NONE of these are properly daguerreotypes, which were fragile photos taken on copper plates using a precarious studio process that was totally unsuited for outdoor photos such as these. They are rather large full-plate photographs made using the wet-plate process whereby large glass plates - note the break and missing piece in the first one; the second one may have actually broken in half - were coated with collodion, exposed in the camera, then rushed by the photographer for immediate processing in his darkroom what-is-it-wagon.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Greensboro, North Carolina
#6
Not to be too much of a nitpicker, but NONE of these are properly daguerreotypes, which were fragile photos taken on copper plates using a precarious studio process that was totally unsuited for outdoor photos such as these. They are rather large full-plate photographs made using the wet-plate process whereby large glass plates - note the break and missing piece in the first one; the second one may have actually broken in half - were coated with collodion, exposed in the camera, then rushed by the photographer for immediate processing in his darkroom what-is-it-wagon.
Oh I see! I wasn't too familiar with the processes between daguerrotypes and what they had done with glass plates instead. I was under the impression that daguerrotyping was the primary mode of photography and that it was relatively safe to assume most images were daguerrotypes. I appreciate the nitpicking greatly though, I wouldn't have known otherwise!
 

James N.

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Oh I see! I wasn't too familiar with the processes between daguerrotypes and what they had done with glass plates instead. I was under the impression that daguerrotyping was the primary mode of photography and that it was relatively safe to assume most images were daguerrotypes. I appreciate the nitpicking greatly though, I wouldn't have known otherwise!
Dags originated in Paris as the creation of Louis Daguerre and produced superior images that were unfortunately very fragile and easily damaged, besides having a mirror-like surface that sometimes made seeing the photo difficult. When the glass wet-plate process came along by 1850 daguerreotypes were quickly abandoned for the newer and better process; by the time of the war almost no one was still producing them and I remember it was news when someone discovered a Civil War soldier's daguerreotype because it was thought NOBODY was still making them. The glass ambrotypes were overtaken during the war by ferrotypes or tintypes that, like daguerreotypes, were on metal plates but were "permanent" enough to be able to travel through the mail without necessarily being damaged. The next logical step were the CDV's or small 2"X3" card photos that came out ca. 1860 and were even more durable and cheaper, besides.
 

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