GRAPHIC The horrors of war.

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Robert Gray

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Alexander Gardner identified this image as "War, effect of a shell on a Confederate soldier." He produced both a stereo view and an 8x10 version of the scene. The rifle, shell and canteen are obvious plants added by the photographer. William Frassanito in his excellent book, GETTYSBURG: A JOURNEY IN TIME, suggests that the soldier possibly belonged to General Paul Semmes's Georgia brigade and may have been in either the 51st or 53rd regiment. As he so ably put it:

Somewhere down in Georgia, at the very moment
Gardner' s negative was being exposed, a family anxiously
awaited news of this soldier's fate, hoping he had survived
yet another battle unscathed. For that family, the true
horror of war would never be forgotten.

24.JPG
dead-at-gettysburg.jpg
 

lelliott19

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Don't want to be insensitive, but this image is interesting, isn't it? Could the hand and attached section of the forearm also have been relocated for improved visibility? Look at the dirt and grass around the base. Also, judging by the condition of the man's face, eyes, and lips (if that's what I'm seeing?) he has been dead for some time. The skin on his still attached hand seems to have already blistered - so probably three days or more? Perhaps action of scavengers on the midsection has contributed to the 'shock value' of this image?
 
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Robert Gray

First Sergeant
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Jul 24, 2012
Messages
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Don't want to be insensitive, but this image is interesting, isn't it? Could the hand and attached section of the forearm also have been relocated for improved visibility? Look at the dirt and grass around the base. Also, judging by the condition of the man's face, eyes, and lips (if that's what I'm seeing?) he has been dead for some time. The skin on his still attached hand seems to have already blistered - so probably three days or more? Perhaps action of scavengers on the midsection has contributed to the 'shock value' of this image?
It is thought that Alexander Gardner visited Gettysburg on July 5th.
 

Burning Billy

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That's certainly different than the movies where a ground explosion throws people into the air. People who haven't seen war can forget how messy and awful it truly is. And makes one appreciate the fortitude it took to charge into the very muzzles of rifles and cannons.

Ryan
I don't think there has been a Civil War movie yet that comes close to capturing the horror of it.

"They moved up splendidly, deploying into column as they crossed the long, sloping interval between the Second Corps and their base. At first it looked as if their line of march would sweep our position, but as they advanced their direction lay considerably to our left; but soon a strong line, with flags, directed its march immediately upon us. We changed our front, and, taking position by a fence, facing the left flank of the advancing column of rebels, the men were ordered to fire into their flank at will. Hardly a musket had been fired at this time. The front of the column was nearly up the slope, and within a few yards of the line of the Second Corps' front and its batteries, when suddenly a terrific fire from every available gun from the Cemetery to Round Top Mountain burst upon them. The distinct, graceful lines of the rebels underwent an instantaneous transformation. They were at once enveloped in a dense cloud of smoke and dust. Arms, heads, blankets, guns and knapsacks were thrown and tossed into the clear air. Their track, as they advanced, was strewn with dead and wounded. A moan went up from the field, distinctly to be heard amid the storm of battle."

---
Lt Col. Franklin Sawyer, 8th Ohio Infantry
 

rpkennedy

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I don't think there has been a Civil War movie yet that comes close to capturing the horror of it.

"They moved up splendidly, deploying into column as they crossed the long, sloping interval between the Second Corps and their base. At first it looked as if their line of march would sweep our position, but as they advanced their direction lay considerably to our left; but soon a strong line, with flags, directed its march immediately upon us. We changed our front, and, taking position by a fence, facing the left flank of the advancing column of rebels, the men were ordered to fire into their flank at will. Hardly a musket had been fired at this time. The front of the column was nearly up the slope, and within a few yards of the line of the Second Corps' front and its batteries, when suddenly a terrific fire from every available gun from the Cemetery to Round Top Mountain burst upon them. The distinct, graceful lines of the rebels underwent an instantaneous transformation. They were at once enveloped in a dense cloud of smoke and dust. Arms, heads, blankets, guns and knapsacks were thrown and tossed into the clear air. Their track, as they advanced, was strewn with dead and wounded. A moan went up from the field, distinctly to be heard amid the storm of battle."

---
Lt Col. Franklin Sawyer, 8th Ohio Infantry
There are so many examples of that kind of incident. Iverson's Brigade when they're hit by the first volley which drops the men so fast that their line could be discerned by the feet of the dead. Kershaw's Brigade at Antietam which takes a battery's worth of canister along a fence, sending the fence and pieces of men into the air. The drummer boy at Franklin who attempted to jam a fence rail into a cannon when an artilleryman pulled the lanyard. Brigade after brigade assaulting the stone wall on Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg even after watching preceding units get blown away.

And yet, men did this in battle after battle.

Ryan
 
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rpkennedy

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I think I remember reading somewhere that the damage to this individual may have come from animals and not from a shell.
That's a distinct possibility. But, to be honest, I would expect a similar type of damage from an artillery hit. After all, we have accounts of men literally being blown apart by artillery.

Ryan
 

Alaskazimm

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That's a distinct possibility. But, to be honest, I would expect a similar type of damage from an artillery hit. After all, we have accounts of men literally being blown apart by artillery.

Ryan
True. Both are possible I suppose; we'll probably never know for sure. It seems to me, though, that a hog wouldn't chew through the lower arm but leave the hand behind. That looks more like a solid shot or fragment doing that.
 

rpkennedy

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True. Both are possible I suppose; we'll probably never know for sure. It seems to me, though, that a hog wouldn't chew through the lower arm but leave the hand behind. That looks more like a solid shot or fragment doing that.
Assuming that the hand shown belonged to that unfortunate soldier.

Ryan
 
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