Gettysburg, Pa. Confederate dead gathered for burial at the edge of the Rose woods, July 5, 1863

Nov 12, 2015
I have held off on asking this question for fear that it would seem strange but here it goes, There is a photograph on the LOC's website of confederate dead in the Rose Woods at Gettysburg that shows multiple men lined up in a row face down awaiting burial. Not all are face down but about 3 are that way. One of the men has his paints pulled down. In tiff view it is pretty graphic.

Is it of the opinion that the men were laid out face down on purpose since they were confederate or do you think they were just laid out that way? Why was the poor man with his paints down not adjusted? I know these photos are brutal in context anyway but it just seems a little strange. Dead is dead but I have always felt for that man.

I haven't attached the photo since I didn't want to offend anyone but the photograph title is in the thread title. There are two different views of this particular group of men.

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Anna Elizabeth Henry

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Feb 15, 2015
New York, New York
I'm no expert in the method of a mass burial during the war, but I imagine given the mammoth task of trying to bury thousands of men after such a battle was arduous and I'm sure whomever did the labor, whether military or civilian was no doubt just trying to get the bodies together in some fashion for burial. They probably didn't give a second thought how the body landed.

As to the poor man with his pants down, I did read stories that some loose pigs, dogs, etc. were seen desecrating the bodies of some of the dead. So maybe that's how the man ended up in that unfortunate pose. Also, if someone drug his body, it could've pulled ill-fitting pants down from his waist.

Here's a link to the LOC site for the photo -

James N.

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Feb 23, 2013
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I only recently read Frassinito's Gettysburg - A Journey in Time and as I remember, this group of bodies had been gathered for burial by the Confederates before their retreat. When collecting decaying and bloated corpses, soldiers weren't particular about how they did it, even with men from their own side. Often bent bayonets were used as hooks on the end of ropes to drag the putrefying bodies to their final resting places. Frassinito theorized that the man's trousers likely came down during this sort of dragging, and before they could either be pulled back up (if anyone could stomach doing it) or the body buried, orders were suddenly given to retreat to Seminary Ridge leaving the job unfinished and the corpse in flagrante delicto.

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