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Where is Lincoln? Heberton Takes on the Flaws in Oakley’s Case

27 Sep
Gardner1stphoto 178 Lincoln DS
Where is Lincoln? Read what Heberton reveals in the ebook: ABRAHAM LINCOLN AT GETTSYBURG
Gardner #1

Gardner #1 photo detail

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Detail of Lincoln’s face under his stovepipe hat in Gardner #1 photo

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Detail of Lincoln’s white-gloved hand (boxed) in Gardner #1 photo

Gardner #2

Gardner #2 photo (right stereo) detail

Gardner #3

Gardner #2 photo (left stereo) detail

Bachrach #4

Bachrach photo detail

In September 2013, the Smithsonian Magazine published an online article which is to appear in their October issue about a new photographic discovery of Lincoln at Gettysburg. Craig Heberton, author of ABRAHAM LINCOLN AT GETTYBURG, made his own discoveries on the same topic and published his ebook well before the Smithsonian piece. His findings differ from Professor Oakley’s in several significant respects, including his identification of President Lincoln in Alexander Gardner’s stereoscopic plates. Working independently of Prof. Oakley and all of the men whom the professor has named as his co-collaborators, Mr. Heberton offers a fresh “outsiders” perspective on the Gardner Gettysburg views.

Here is a link to the Smithsonian Magazine article:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Will-the-Real-Abraham-Lincoln-Please-Stand-Up-224911272.html#the-new-lincoln-photo-1.jpg

If Heberton is correct, he has uncovered a poignant scene of Lincoln stationed atop his horse directly in front of the speakers’ platform which he would later surmount to give his Gettysburg Address.  Heberton has concluded that a young boy is seated on the front of Lincoln’s saddle in the first Gardner photo.  Here he describes his discovery:

In an emotionally evocative scene, Lincoln paternalistically gazes down upon the boy from behind, with his head tilted to the side, while thrusting one of his large white gloved hands out towards the thousands of spectators standing before him as if to say to the boy — “what do you think about all of this?” To put this into context, at that moment Lincoln’s 10 year- old son, Tad, was back at the White House battling a potentially fatal case of smallpox. The boy on Lincoln’s saddle looked the part of a boy Tad’s age — a form of a stand-in for his missing son. This was not what I expected to see when I began to study Gardner’s stereoscopic slides three years ago — a journey which began when a colleague called one day and said, “I’m e-mailing you a photo and I want you to tell me where it was taken, when it was taken, what it represents … and if you see Lincoln anywhere in it. OK?”

When Heberton first saw the Smithsonian article he was impressed with the technical skills applied by Professor Oakley in his research as described in the article. But he was greatly disappointed by the identity and location of Oakley’s candidate for Lincoln. Maybe even more disappointing was Oakley’s claim that Lincoln “accidentally” appeared in one of Gardner’s photographic efforts essentially because Alexander Gardner had photographed Lincoln before. Here Heberton describes his reaction to Oakley’s revelations:

Professor Oakley claims that Alexander Gardner had taken plenty of posed photos of Lincoln on prior occasions and had no use for any images of Lincoln upon the former Gettysburg battlefield among the thousands who gathered to honor the dead Union soldiers and to dedicate the new cemetery in an event described by the media as the greatest gathering of famous dignitaries perhaps since Lincoln’s inauguration, if not in that century. According to Oakley, Gardner was more interested in creating a stereoscopic slide of himself posing in front of soldiers and spectators on the cemetery grounds (taken by his assistants) than he was of trying to capture Lincoln. The professor maintains that perhaps his greatest discovery was finding a man whom he identifies in the foreground as Gardner in the same photograph in which his Lincoln “accidentally” appears in the background — sort of a modern day version of clicking a photo of yourself on your mobile phone standing in front of the White House and later discovering to your surprise that President Obama accidentally appears in the background hunched over in your digital image while standing next to his seated Secretary of State Kerry, unaccompanied by any security, and completely ignored by a throng of visiting dignitaries and foreign ambassadors who are standing with their backs to him! What would be the odds of that?

They say that the devil is in the details and here Heberton addresses some of his disagreements with the Lincoln identification made by Civil War historian and animation wizard Christopher Oakley:

Why Oakley’s Lincoln is wrong.

  • His Lincoln commands no attention from the crowd
  • No dignitaries are on their feet preparing to greet his Lincoln
  • Men in the crowd have not removed their hats in a show of respect
  • The nose on his Lincoln is “hawk-shaped”
  • The “beard” on his Lincoln’s chin is tucked into his shirt and many shades darker than the rest of his facial hair
  • His Lincoln’s “beard” is just as likely a bow tie
  • His Lincoln is on the far right of the platform seated behind other people when all accounts and the Bachrach photo place Lincoln in the front row and center of the stand

 

Why Heberton’s Lincoln makes more sense:

  • His Lincoln is the center of focused attention from nearly all visible platform spectators
  • Some men on the platform doffed their hats for his Lincoln
  • His Lincoln is positioned near a presidential-appearing eagle-finial topped staff
  • Lincoln wore white gauntlets over his extremely large hands at Gettysburg
  • His Lincoln extends a large white gloved hand in front of a boy’s face seated atop his horse
  • Accounts note that Lincoln was preoccupied with the children at Gettysburg, patting their heads & bestowing kisses
  • His Lincoln is in front of Lincoln’s special escort sent by Sec. of War Stanton to safeguard him, and who rode behind Lincoln in the procession to the cemetery from the center of town
  • Within the shadows of his wide brimmed stovepipe hat is revealed Lincoln’s distinctive bearded chin and a large ear and long nose in the first photo
  • A line of contrast in darkness on his Lincoln’s hat betrays the presence of a hat band which Lincoln wore in honor of his deceased son Willie
  • His Lincoln’s movement throughout the 2nd exposure created an opalescent ghost-image smiling at the camera which is possibly a distorted representation of the long and narrow face of Lincoln with a small bearded chin

Follow Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg on Facebook and Twitter:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Abraham-Lincoln-at-Gettysburg/338089372973741?ref=hl

The original photographic digital images used in this blog are from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C., Civil War glass negative collection

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