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Was a Second Body Moved by Alexander Gardner?

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by Gettysburg Greg, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. Gettysburg Greg

    Gettysburg Greg Sergeant

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    It is common knowledge that the body seen in Gardner's iconic image of the sharpshooter's nest was also photographed in a second location 72 yards away. Whether the body was move to or from the sniper's position is a subject of much discussion and some disagreement, but that is not the controversy I am focusing on in this post. I would like my fellow photo sleuths to take a look at these two Gardner photographs that show the same body fro m different perspectives. Notice the dead Confederate soldier in the left photo is the same one seen in the photo on the right which includes a second fallen soldier. I would like you to notice that the large crack in the boulder behind the man appears to line up with the center of the man's chest. Now check out the location of the same man in the right hand photo compared to the crack. My first reaction on seeing this was to think that unquestionably, the body was moved between exposures. You might notice that the prop rifle placed there by the photographer has definitely been repositioned. Being aware that historians/authors Tim Smith and Garry Adelman commonly say that the sharpshooter is the only case where a body was repositioned and photographed, I ran this by Tim I appreciated the fact that he took the time to respond. According to Tim, the illusion that the body was moved is a result of the different angles between the two shots. Since then there have been others who claim they can prove the body was, indeed, moved and have presented some compelling evidence that has made me question Tim's assertion. Take a look for yourselves and then I'd be interested in hearing your opinions. . I have studied these images carefully under high magnification and what I see has me leaning towards believing the body has NOT been moved, but I will save that observation until I hear what some of my friends here believe. For orientation purposes, I will also include my then and now of this location.
    plum run2.jpg

    plum run final.jpg
     

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  3. John Winn

    John Winn Captain

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    Well, it certainly seems that the body had been manipulated to some degree as the musket and the ammunition pouch are not in the same positions. It also looks to me that the legs might be in somewhat different positions, too. I also don't buy that the position of the crack in the rock is an illusion. So I'm going to say the body was , say, 'rearranged' a little but not moved much.
     
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  4. FZ11

    FZ11 Sergeant Major

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    This.
     
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  5. Wallyfish

    Wallyfish Sergeant Trivia Game Winner

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    I stated in your Trough Rock post that I have been snookered before by changing camera angles.

    But my 2 cents on this mystery is this. I believe the body was lifted up to put the cartridge box strap around the bodies neck. Because the body was stiff with rigor mortis, I think the body was inadvertently pulled to the north resulting in the body being closer to the classic rock crack. Because the body was moved the rifle was repositioned as well. One would think they used his shoulders to pull him up. He had to be stiff as a board by that time. So very cool that you ran that by Tim Smith. Tim's and Garry's battle walks using old photos are remarkably well done.

    I went to look at my now photo collection and I have oodles of pictures close to the same angle as your photo. Remarkably I have no photos standing closer to Plum Run replicating the angle of the lone dead body.

    That's my story and I am sticking to it. I am still trying to figure out what "Extra" Billy Smith saw on July 1. So many mysteries, so little time.

    Thanks for posting.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
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  6. Wallyfish

    Wallyfish Sergeant Trivia Game Winner

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    I haven't watched this PCN battle walk with Tim and Garry in a long time. Need to see if they say anything about these photos.

    Pennsylvania Cable Network does these battle walks every year over the anniversary dates. They include park rangers and guides such as Garry and Tim. They always show historic photos, Some like this one is on YouTube. Other battlewalks can be purchased from PCN and I believe Amazon. My wife and I are shown on several Scott Hartwig's walks
     
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  7. Bee

    Bee 1st Lieutenant

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    A change in perspective can alter many things, but I do not believe that it would cause the perception that the crack had moved north or south as related to the body. If there was a change-up in other props around the body, such as the pouch and the rifle, this would suggest a high possibility that the body had been moved.
     
  8. EJ Zander

    EJ Zander First Sergeant

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    I have magnified this photo before and this poor fellow suffered a head wound such that he has what appears to be brain matter coming out of it. From the looks of it his head was previously laying to the side, the same side as the wound. Unknown if moved by the photographer or not.
     
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  9. Scott F

    Scott F Private

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    As EJ said, his brain matter has spilt out onto the ground in both photos. So no the body was not moved in-between photographs. The photos are graphic but I wanted to point out a couple of other things. The what ever that is behind his head in both shots is in the same position. Also you can see the grass in front of the rock (the one that the rifle is laying on ) in the close up is exactly where it should be in the other photo. DetailSP1.jpg detailSP2.jpg
     
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  10. JohnW.

    JohnW. First Sergeant

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    The body looks like it was slid down or pulled up about 3 feet and the musket is definitely a prop.
     
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  11. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

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    Greg i see what you mean. Shifted left to include the other man too maybe. I'm looking at how the cracks line up and he is shifted left.
     
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  12. Scott F

    Scott F Private

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    I agree with the prop rifle. There is no doubt that Gardner used the same prop rifle in all his Gettysburg photographs. The same missing ram rod and same rusty barrel. Not to be too graphic, but if they did pull the body up or slide it down they would of had to move the brain matter too. It looks to be on the ground in the same location in both photographs. It is complicated but photographically speaking it seems that the background moves but it is an illusion caused by distance and angle.
     
  13. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

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    The guy in the foreground is gruesome. I think he has a head wound also.
     
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  14. Jamieva

    Jamieva 2nd Lieutenant Forum Host

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    Agree in the nose or right eye area
     
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  15. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

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    His mouth is a wreck and i swear there is a forehead wound. I wonder who he was.
     
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  16. Jamieva

    Jamieva 2nd Lieutenant Forum Host

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    you're right what I thought was his nose is where his mouth would be
     
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  17. Wallyfish

    Wallyfish Sergeant Trivia Game Winner

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    Great discussion folks. I still believe the body was pulled north closer to Devils Den. Even today, that area closest to Plum Run gets pretty soupy with standing water. Gardner may of slightly repositioned the body simply to find a dry spot for the camera versus attempting to add further drama.

    Some of his photos were very gruesome. I am sure they were even more shocking back in 1863, but the brutality of war still shocks us today.

    Maybe we can run this by CBS for another spinoff of their CSI series. Gettysburg CSI staring Greg. I would watch it, would you?

    I found the paragraph below in a bibliography of Alexander Gardner. I am sure he would be happy that his work continues to have an enduring interest in 2017.

    In 1871, Gardner gave up photography to start an insurance company. He lived in Washington until his death in 1882. Regarding his work he said, “It is designed to speak for itself. As mementos of the fearful struggle through which the country has just passed, it is confidently hoped that it will possess an enduring interest.”

    By the way, I watched most of the YouTube video in my post above and I did not see them showing these photos. I hope that video was appropriate in this thread. Tim and Garry's PCN Battle Walks have historic photos usually at the core of their presentation.
     
  18. Bee

    Bee 1st Lieutenant

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    We're not that fussy around here, WF. We're a bunch of Gettysburg junkies waiting for @Gettysburg Greg to drop us another fix. In the meantime, we ward off withdrawals by watching videos and communing with other G-burg junkies :smile:
     
  19. AndyHall

    AndyHall Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    It does appear to me that the body was moved, based on the parallax shift in the distinctive markings on the rock immediately behind him. Unless he lay several feet closer to to the camera than the rock -- and he looks to be immediately alongside it -- then either he moved, or the rock moved.

    DetailSP1.jpg
    detailSP2.jpg

    A better question, though, is WHY move a body a couple of feet to capture essentially the same image?
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  20. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

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    Edit.
     
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