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The Fine Print

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« Unintentional Proto-Impressionist Photography, ca. 1863. | Main | Standardizing Precision and Beautiful Technical Prints: Ramsden's Dividing Engines »


John McKay

Something I find interesting in the picture is the soil itself. The grass, weeds, or whatever the ground cover was is completely gone. Every inch is covered by flat bootprints. There is one line of wheel tracks, but I can't see the marks of a dray animal's hooves. Were the bodies brought in by a human pulled cart? It looks like the dead are being buried in a line following the road. I suppose that would be the easiest way to organize transport.

I think you're right about the stakes. At first I thought they were a broken fence, but the line appears to cut the buildings off from the road. And it ends just before where the laborers are digging new graves.

I love this sort of visual archaeology.

John F. Ptak

Thanks John, those are interesting insights--hadn't really looked at the dirt, which is odd because I collect it sorta. And you're right, I don't see any evidence of boots, just shoes, which makes sense if all the labor is being done by freedmen who probably wouldn't own such a luxury. Which also I guess means that no one was taking the boots (if any) from a dead soldier.
Since these were temporary graves I guess setting them up near a row in lines makes sense...I'm not sure that I would do anything different if I was there making that decision.
ANd I think that you're right too about all of this being human-powered...no tracks of an animal of any kind.
Good looking, J McK. Thanks very much for your contribution.

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