That Thousand-Yard-Stare

TerryB

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Nashville TN
That thousand yard stare is an anachronism I borrowed from WWII marines accounts of when a man had had too much and was about to lose it. In this photo of Ed Buford, Sr., of Clack's/Brown's 3rd Tenn Inf, you can see it in his eyes. The photo was taken in Nashville sometime between Ed's return home in June 1865 and August 1866 (it has a revenue stamp on the back). Ed did two stints as a POW, once from Fort Donelson, and one from May 1864 to March 1865. After his second exchange, he fell off a moving train in North Carolina, delaying his return home. His obit says he was the only man in his unit not to fall out on the march from Mississippi to Bragg in Tennessee just before Chickamauga. This is the only Civil War photo I've seen that has that stare.

Ed Buford, Sr. ca 1865.jpg
 

Viper21

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I have always thought the same about this photograph of one of my own ancestors. The eyes are a little clearer in the picture I have on the wall, & seem to tell a story in of themselves. I don't have the benefit of knowing when exactly this picture was taken but, believe it to have been during service. They look like eyes that have seen much horror in my opinion.

He was with the 47th VA Infantry, & spent 7 months as a POW at Point Lookout, MD.

William T Hart.jpg
 

TerryB

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Nashville TN
Ed also came down with pneumonia during his first POW stint. Part of the trip from the fort to Illinois was by steamboat, but mainly the men were packed into railroad cattle cars where they suffered severely from the cold. He spent two or three weeks in the prison hospital.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Central Pennsylvania
Agree UB. It's not just the old vet photos either. They're sometimes tough to look at it. This man is several decades after the hand to hand fighting at the Bloody Angle and whatever on earth the rest of his war with the 126th OVI looked like. Always bothers me.
jolley morris gar.jpg


And- went to my first years of college when the Vietnam vets were back and putting pieces together, a lot getting into the school they'd had to skip. It was all so fresh back then, remember? The hippies had kinda faded, all that noise was over mostly. No one talks about that period, it had all been Woodstock and chaos then boom, war over. Vets were awfully quiet, commuters, most had families, wives that came with them sometimes. They hung out together mostly, only a few years older than the rest of us but seemed around 50 years older, when you talked to them. It was a distant look, like they were politely looking at you but weren't, there was maybe something over your shoulder or behind you. I'm pretty good at describing things and can't.
 

TerryB

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Dec 7, 2008
Location
Nashville TN
Men who have been in combat always have that "stare," 1,000 yards not withstanding.

It seems the eyes now notice everything, every movement, even with only a glance.

I hope they are both at peace now, eyes closed, at rest.
I agree. It's just that the term, as far as I know, originated with WWII marines to describe the vacant look in a man's eyes when he was about to suffer a breakdown. I'll try to find a photo that comes to mind of a marine about to lob a grenade--he's got that look in his eyes that you describe. https://duckduckgo.com/?q=wwii+marine+with+fear+in+eyes&t=ffab&iar=images&iax=images&ia=images

Top row has two such iconic images.
 
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TerryB

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Dec 7, 2008
Location
Nashville TN
Agree UB. It's not just the old vet photos either. They're sometimes tough to look at it. This man is several decades after the hand to hand fighting at the Bloody Angle and whatever on earth the rest of his war with the 126th OVI looked like. Always bothers me.
View attachment 363385

And- went to my first years of college when the Vietnam vets were back and putting pieces together, a lot getting into the school they'd had to skip. It was all so fresh back then, remember? The hippies had kinda faded, all that noise was over mostly. No one talks about that period, it had all been Woodstock and chaos then boom, war over. Vets were awfully quiet, commuters, most had families, wives that came with them sometimes. They hung out together mostly, only a few years older than the rest of us but seemed around 50 years older, when you talked to them. It was a distant look, like they were politely looking at you but weren't, there was maybe something over your shoulder or behind you. I'm pretty good at describing things and can't.
The nostalgia in this man's eyes is definitely not the best kind.
 

DixieRifles

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Collierville, TN
That thousand yard stare is an anachronism I borrowed from WWII marines accounts of when a man had had too much and was about to lose it.
I think you might be referring to this painting.
Stare.JPG


IMHO, I didn't think Ed Buford, Sr.'s photo has that blank look. He seems to be afraid of the camera and trying to find a point to focus on.
 

TerryB

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Nashville TN
I think you might be referring to this painting.
View attachment 363456

IMHO, I didn't think Ed Buford, Sr.'s photo has that blank look. He seems to be afraid of the camera and trying to find a point to focus on.
Thanks for posting. I'd forgotten about this one. I posted a link in # 10 that has two iconic photos. As to Ed's look, you may be right, but I've always thought he looked dazed and confused. BTW, he didn't marry until 1875 but you'd think the Nashville belles would have considered him a worthy catch.
 

Viper21

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Had one friend, a Green Beret, always go into a place to eat, find the back both, keeping his back to the wall and watch the entrance at all times.

Situational awareness. I've been doing the same, most of my adult life. My life experiences surely in play. Became more prevalent once I became a parent. It is subconscious anymore, just how I operate. Over the years, it has become so common that, my wife automatically chooses the seat that gives me the best overview of our surroundings when she's seated.
 

TerryB

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Dec 7, 2008
Location
Nashville TN
By contrast, this is Cpl Monroe Pointer of the Maynard Rifles Company of the 154 Tenn Inf. He was wounded slightly in the neck at Shiloh, then given a disability discharge during Bragg's Kentucky Campaign for some type of blood disease. He was later conscripted by the state of Mississippi and ended the war at the Grenada depot. His service can't have been that hard, but he lost a wife and child to yellow fever not long before this picture was taken. He was living in a Memphis hotel at the time of the picture (Ca 1867), about a year after the loss of wife and child. His occupation was listed as salesman. I'd attribute this look to deep sadness.

Cpl Monroe Pointer ca 1867.jpg
 
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