Tag Archives: David Bachrach

Lincoln’s Arrival at the Dedication of the Soldiers’ Cemetery in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863

18 Nov

Three stereoscopic glass plate negatives taken at the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery dedication on November 19, 1863  have been credited to Alexander Gardner’s photographic team. Positive images of the three negatives appear below, courtesy of the Library of Congress. It is believed that the order in which they were taken was first unraveled in 2012 by this author in his ebook Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg: A Review of Alexander Gardner’s Stereoscopic Photos (2012).All 3aThe Gardner photographers perched their dual lens camera atop some sort of a photographic platform which may have been nothing more sophisticated than a folding twelve foot ladder or two. Note the back of a partially bald head which appears in the lower portion of the immediate foreground in the first and last view above. It might be Alexander Gardner’s head captured as he faced out towards the historic scene while standing just below the camera on the front steps of a ladder. A later view of Gardner taken after the war near Manhattan, Kansas (according to R. Mark Katz) appears to reveal that he had that kind of male pattern balding.

As discovered by John J. Richter, photographic detail very likely reveals an Alexander Gardner photographer — visible under the red arrow below — standing atop the photographic platform. This view is attributed to photographer Peter S. Weaver and was taken from a 2nd story window in the Evergreen Cemetery Gatehouse on November 19, 1863 (courtesy, the Library of Congress). 32845umarkedZooming in reveals a darker object beneath the man and just above the heads of several men either on horseback or standing on the front steps of the ladder(s) — likely Gardner’s camera (below).  32845u-gardner2 That photographic platform was used in order to “see” over the large crowd and get a glimpse at portions of (and the area around) the speakers’ platform, as well as other key and unique features, such as a 100 foot tall flagpole erected for the occasion, the Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse, some of East Cemetery Hill, and a large white tent constructed for the privacy of Edward Everett, the keynote speaker. The left side of the first glass plate negative — LC-B815-1160 — exposed within the sequence of three is shown below (courtesy of the Library of Congress). 00652a-left stereo-modified The speakers’ platform, which was described by one observer as only 3 feet above the ground, faced not towards the Gardner photographic position, but was oriented from its center towards the tall flagpole. As described in this author’s book Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg (follow the link), the seating on the speaker’s rostrum was arranged in an orchestral fashion, with its several levels arcing around the center area of the first row where Lincoln sat. If you wonder why Gardner’s team set up their camera so far from the speakers’ platform, please read Heberton’s Lincoln: The Case,” for an analysis. That article, in conjunction with the book Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, also explains why Gardner likely chose to set up his photographic platform at such a severe angle to the speakers’ platform rather than selecting a more “head-on” perspective centered to the middle of the rostrum.

A modern “now” photograph taken by the author on November 18, 2013 in the Gettysburg National Soldiers’ Cemetery from roughly the same location as Gardner’s views is compared with “then” photographic detail from the first exposed Gardner plate, below:Comparison of Gardner's view with modern view1 The Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse, clearly visible in the Gardner view, is almost completely obscured by trees in the modern view. Excluding an addition built after 1863, the gatehouse structure looks much today as it did then. The Gettysburg Soldiers’ National Monument currently stands where the tall flagpole (cropped at its top) is visible in the Gardner stereo view detail.

Working with a very high-res scan of those images provided to him by the Library of Congress, John J. Richter concluded that he had pinpointed Abraham Lincoln in two of the three photographs seated atop a horse obscured from the camera in the exact same location in both of those views. Mr. Richter’s discovery was widely hailed by the national press (follow the link). It was remarkable to realize that Lincoln had gone undetected in two stereo views taken at Gettysburg for all of those years until the announcement in November 2007. See detail, below, of Mr. Richter’s Lincoln candidate from both views. 00673a-left stereo-cropped-sharpened detail 2d staff-modIn early 2008, William A. Frassanito posted  an article at a friend’s blog (follow the link) which opined that the man Mr. Richter identified as Lincoln wasn’t Honest Abe and added several arguments why it was virtually impossible for Lincoln to have been visible when any of the stereo views were taken. Mr. Frassanito wrote that “it is well documented that Lincoln was accompanied and flanked by several mounted civilians, including the chief marshal and three members of Lincoln’s cabinet” and concluded that the three images reveal that all of Gardner’s views were taken only after Lincoln and the other dignitaries had been seated on the speakers’ platform.

In 2012, this author published Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg which sequenced the three stereo views, discussed the documentary and photographic evidence, and concluded that Lincoln could have been present and also visible in the images as he was arriving by horseback at the speakers’ platform. That book also evaluated John Richter’s candidate, finding that he could be Lincoln despite the absence of conclusive visual evidence. It was explained, however, that the author’s research did not uncover any contemporary accounts describing Lincoln riding alone in front of and just beyond the speakers’ platform, raising his left arm as if giving a salute, and remaining seated atop his horse unflinchingly for a minute or two or three. Several potential appearance issues involving Mr. Richter’s candidate also were evaluated relating to his hat, hairline, shirt collar, and beard.

However, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg also disclosed another Lincoln candidate whom this author feels is even more compelling than Mr. Richter’s because of a substantial amount of supporting contextual evidence: the location of that candidate, the visible crowd’s attention focused in his direction in both photos, the respectful hat-tipping reaction of some members of the crowd whose gazes were glued to him, his very close proximity to the man assigned by the Secretary of War to escort Lincoln (Provost Marshal General Fry), his tall silk hat adorned by a different-toned band matching accounts that Lincoln’s hat was wrapped with a mourning band, his large white-gloved right hand extended palm-up toward the camera in the first view, and what can be discerned of his facial appearance. The most striking of his facial features is his Lincoln-like jutting chin capped by a modest beard. See Heberton’s Lincoln candidate, below, from the first and second Gardner stereo views. Detail from one of Lincoln’s studio images taken by Alexander Gardner in Washington, D.C. on November 8, 1863 has been inserted next to the “ghost image” (caused by a hyper-fleeting pose) in the second photo to allow for a side-by-side comparison.  17807u-detail015 17806a-ghost-lincolnBecause this man’s face appears in dark shadows created by the brow of his hat in the first view and he likely moved during much of the lengthy exposure in the second view creating a “ghost image” in front of a “fixed” image of his tall silk hat, the case for this candidate as Lincoln is more heavily anchored to substantial contextual support. See detail, below, from the first-in-time Gardner stereo view revealing the relative positions of Mr. Richter’s candidate, this author’s candidate, and Mr. Oakley’s candidate (discussed below). 17807u_crop_boy3But there is a third candidate. The Smithsonian Magazine, in its October 2013 article “Will the Real Abraham Lincoln Please Stand Up?,” proclaimed that within one of the Alex Gardner stereo views, Christopher Oakley had made “what looks to be the most significant, if not the most provocative, Abraham Lincoln photo find of the last 60 years.” Mr. Oakley asserted that his candidate was “accidentally” captured by Gardner’s camera as he stood frozen throughout the entire passage of that plate’s lengthy exposure while stooped over, looking at the ground beneath him, and holding a rigid pose for several seconds despite surmounting unseen steps leading to the platform. The many reasons why Professor Oakley’s candidate cannot be Abraham Lincoln — ranging from his completely mismatched nose to the fact that he is seated (not standing) in two photos nowhere near the spot that Lincoln is documented to have been seated, “guarded” by two little boys, and ignored by all of the visible spectators on the speakers’ platform — are laid out in Heberton’s Lincoln: The Case,” Where is Lincoln?: Heberton Takes on the Flaws in Oakley’s Case,” the press release Should Oakley’s Lincoln Sit Down?,” and The Big Picture: Where Would Lincoln Be? Heberton Reveals His Findings.” Click on those links also for a fuller explanation of the case for this author’s Lincoln candidate. Here is Mr. Oakley’s “enhanced” representation of his hawk-nosed Lincoln candidate which he presented on the CBS Evening News broadcast on November 19, 2013 along with detail from Gardner’s second stereo view at the Library of Congress. 2013-011-19_CBS Evening New_002 04063u cxA visual review of the detail within the first and second Gardner view reveals that Mr. Oakley’s candidate was seated in the same spot in both views. That location is at the extreme far end of the platform and, as can been seen, is not in the first row of seats. Moreover, Mr. Oakley claims that the man seated to the right of his candidate for Lincoln is Secretary of State William H. Seward. Lincoln, in actuality, was seated in the center of the front row, with Seward to his left, nowhere near Mr. Oakley’s candidate pictured below:compare 07Below is a comparison between a different photograph (on the top) attributed to photographer David Bachrach showing exactly where Lincoln was seated with Seward to his left (rather than to his right) and the Gardner stereo (on the bottom). The Bachrach photo is marked to illustrate the area where Mr. Oakley’s candidate was seated had it been visible in that view. This gives one a perspective of how far removed Mr. Oakley’s candidate was situated from where President Lincoln sat.00cPresently, this author believes that Mr. Oakley’s candidate for Seward could be soft-chinned Simon Cameron, who earlier in 1863 had resigned his position as the U.S. minister to Russia and returned to his native Pennsylvania. Before his appointment as ambassador, Cameron had stepped down as Lincoln’s Secretary of War in January of 1862 because of “mismanagement, corruption and abuse of patronage.” This would explain why he was seated in an area relatively proximate to where a number of foreign diplomats were situated but well removed from Lincoln. See, below, a horizontally flipped studio image of Simon Cameron (courtesy, the Library of Congress) placed in the middle of cropped detail of the man whom Mr. Oakley has unequivocally identified as Seward.cf Oakley Seward to Simon Cameron flippedThe left side of the first exposed Gardner negative at Gettysburg  — LC-B815-1160 — is marked, below, to show the locations of the three Lincoln candidates.00652a-left-stereo-modified-midpoint-language62What is to be made of these 3 Lincoln candidates? Some people embrace one of them as Lincoln. Some just don’t know or are bewildered when they too quickly attempt to interpret the photographic evidence and ignore the contextual documentary evidence. Others adhere to the position that Gardner merely took three “establishing” or “generic crowd shots” (representing the sum total of his photographic work at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863), had zero interest in capturing a scene with Lincoln, and didn’t even accidentally capture Lincoln in any of the three stereo views. Nevertheless, an evaluation of whether Gardner intentionally placed his camera where he did in order to try to capture two relatively rapid-fire views of Lincoln arriving at the Cemetery upon his horse + one much later view of the famous keynote speaker, Edward Everett, arriving on the speaker’s platform is laid out in Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg and several of this author’s blog articles at abrahamlincolnatgettysburg.wordpress.com.

Below is a summary of the cases for each of the 3 Lincoln candidates. The contemporary accounts establish that Lincoln wore a mourning band on his tall silk hat, his hands were covered by white gloves, many of the men in the crowd on the speakers’ platform removed their hats in a show of respect when Lincoln arrived in the front of the platform, Lincoln was surrounded by dignitaries as he approached the platform and when he surmounted its steps, Lincoln “was the [most] observed of the observed” when he arrived, Lincoln was seated in the very center of the front row of chairs placed on the platform, Lincoln made a graceful bow to the crowd after his arrival, and Lincoln paid great attention to children in Gettysburg, including picking up and placing a child on his saddle briefly during his horseback ride in the procession to the Cemetery from the town. 3 Lincoln comparison 2015-11-16[2]

What do you, a member of the jury, think? Remember that the standard of evidence to be applied is merely a “preponderance of the evidence” and not “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This isn’t a criminal trial. Can you reach a verdict or do you think we have a “hung jury?”

by Craig Heberton

November 18, 2015. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved by Craig Heberton.

Note: This author now believes that the man appearing seated to the left of Lincoln (Lincoln’s right) in the photo attributed to David Bachrach is not Ward H. Lamon, as marked on one of the images above, but Lincoln’s assistant John Nicolay. This is in harmony with Mr. Oakley’s identification of that man.

 

 

“The Civil War” by Ken Burns: A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM

11 Sep

“The Civil War’s” Episode #5 — “The Universe of Battle – 1863” — is about 1.5 hours long. It begins with the image of a famous photograph by Mathew B. Brady and his team taken in Gettysburg about 10-14 days after the battle’s end.  While showing this picture of three captured (or deserter) Confederate soldiers posing for Brady as if they were paid professionals, Shelby Foote lyrically emotes: “there’s something about that picture that draws me strongly as an image of the war.” Mr. Foote reveals that his fondness comes from his interpretation of the body language of one of the soldiers as that of proud defiance.

01450a detail

Crammed into the final 6 minutes of the end of that episode is a segment Ken Burns titled “A New Birth of Freedom.”

Despite this segment’s short treatment of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, that particular title has evolved over time into one of the most important themes of the entire movie. Burns has repeated it over and over again in dozens upon dozens of interviews during the last 25 years in order to explain the modern relevancy of both “The Civil War” and the conflict itself.

The opening scene in “A New Birth of Freedom” is video footage of former Missouri Congressman James W. Symington eloquently reflecting that if he:

had a choice of all the moments he could be present at during [the] war period it would be at Gettysburg during Lincoln’s delivery of his speech. Maybe to have seen him craft those beautiful words, those marvelous healing words, and then deliver them. They were for everyone, for all time. They subsumed the entire war and all in it. It showed his compassion for everyone. His love for his people. That’s where I’d like to be.”

I remember watching this 25 years ago and saying out loud to no one in particular: “that, too, is where I would want to be.”

After Symington finishes, David McCullough narrates: “On November 19th, Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg to dedicate the new Union cemetery.”

Oops, a blooper! Lincoln actually traveled to Gettysburg on the 18th and we as a nation are very lucky he did.

Had Lincoln left Washington, D.C. on the morning of the 19th, as Secretary of War Stanton had planned, Lincoln never would have arrived at Gettysburg on time. Yet even if he had been delivered there by divine intervention, Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” would have been very different. Lincoln wouldn’t have rewritten a portion of his speech at David Wills’ home on the night of the 18th or visited a portion of the battlefield by carriage very early on the morning of the 19th, after which he possibly added the last several critical lines of his Address … including the words “a new birth of freedom.”

There also would have been no serenading of Lincoln by the crowds in Gettysburg on the night of the 18th, resulting in Lincoln’s “First” Gettysburg Address. In that very short public address, Lincoln stood by an open doorway and joked that he had no speech to give and therefore, based upon past experience, would not give any. It was this address which many Northern Democrat-owned and Southern newspapers alike reported as Lincoln’s ONE & ONLY Gettysburg Address — for which they mocked Lincoln derisively.

About a minute and half into “A New Birth of Freedom,” we come face-to-face with the print of a very famous photograph. Burns then focuses our attention exclusively on that photo over the next 66 seconds (a capture of the second shot of it from the remastered film in HD, below).

Bachrach-Burns-02

It is a photo which was taken at the sight of the dedication of Gettysburg’s Soldiers’ Cemetery. And it’s original negative, sadly, has been lost to history. Of greatest importance is that it is the only Gettysburg photograph which is universally agreed to show Lincoln [to read about another which may also show Lincoln, click this link]. Yet Lincoln’s appearance within it wasn’t announced until February 11, 1953 after Josephine Cobb of the National Archives tentatively identified Lincoln. A consensus was reached over time that it is him.

Ken Burns used this photograph in three separate and consecutive shots. In the first, he zoomed in on detail to the left, revealing some of the soldiers standing in a hollow square formation. They are turned to face towards the camera and strike a pose (the same detail from an image courtesy of the Library of Congress, at right).

Bachrach-Burns-01ycompareLC

The second frame shows the entire photograph, giving some sense of the scale of the event (but not its full scope) and the distance the photographers were set up from the speakers’ platform and the crowds jammed around Lincoln and others. In its third usage, Burns filmed a very tight shot of an area on the speaker’s platform and had his camera zoom in towards the face of Abraham Lincoln. Here is a capture of Burn’s tightest shot from the remastered film in HD available at www.pbs.org, placed side-by-side with detail from a Library of Congress scan (at right).

Bachrach-Burns-04aLCx

David McCullough narrates the following during the minute plus airing of this photo:

Then Lincoln rose. A local photographer took his time focusing. Presumably the President could be counted on to go for a while. But he spoke just 269 words … Lincoln was heading back to his seat before the photographer could open the shutter.

Just a small faux pas here because the camera those men used was not equipped with a shutter. Rather, an exposure was created simply by removing and replacing a cap over the lens. Crude home-made drop shutter lenses were then a great rarity.

The story Mr. McCullough described is a combination of two accounts published more than 30 years after the event. Those accounts spoke to the presence of a photographer right in front of the platform who failed to take a picture of Lincoln while he stood and spoke. To be clear, neither those accounts nor Mr. McCullough’s narration relate in any way to this photograph.

It was first deduced by William A. Frassanito, to my knowledge, that the photographers who took this image in which Lincoln is discernible were David Bachrach of Baltimore and an undentified cameraman from Harper’s Weekly. I firmly believe that those men might be seen together within detail from a different photograph taken on the grounds of the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery on November 19, 1863 (see below, courtesy of the Library of Congress). One can be made out (through the limbs of a tree) seated atop a tall folding ladder. He is peering through his camera with his left arm extended while the other man stands near him with a portable darkroom on a tripod. If these men are not Bachrach and the Harper’s Weekly photographer, then they are likely David Woodbury and Anthony Berger (two Mathew Brady photographers). They were first pointed out and described in the book Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg” For more about them, click here for the article “Finding Photographers and Their Equipment in Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery Photos.”

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Bachrach wrote in 1916 that “I took the portable dark-room and [went to Gettysburg], and did the technical work of photographing the crowd, not with the best result while Mr. Everett was speaking.” That is exactly what the photograph used by Ken Burns and showing Lincoln depicts: Edward Everett standing and speaking (see him in blurred detail, below at left).

07639u_BachrachMr. Bachrach made no mention of attempting to photograph Lincoln while he spoke or even after he returned to his seat. It is logical that he would have mentioned it had he done so.

If you wonder what Lincoln was doing the moment he was photographed, take a look at the following and click “Addressing What Lincoln is Doing While Seated on the Platform at Gettysburg.”

object07639uIDsx1

Fell free to share with me what you think.

There’s something about that picture that draws me strongly as an image of the Civil War!

Craig Heberton, September 10, 2015

The Brady Bunch: The Case of the Missing Gettysburg Photos

11 Jan

David B. Woodbury was a Civil War battlefield photographer who worked for Mathew B. Brady. According to Frederic E. Ray, Woodbury probably is the man seated on the left, below, in detail from an 1864 image at the Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs Division (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2012649238/):

DBWoodbury33170uLC2

A recent online auction offered for sale a collection of manuscripts — including a diary, notes, and letters — written by or belonging to David B. Woodbury (the “David B. Woodbury Collection”). The owner of the David B. Woodbury Collection noted in that auction that the diary and pertinent letters were enthusiastically reviewed in 1970 by Josephine Cobb, a pioneer in Civil War photography scholarship who worked for years at the Still Picture Branch of the National Archives and first identified Lincoln seated on the speakers’ platform in a Gettysburg photograph in 1952 (the “Bachrach photo”). Unlike a number of his colleagues, David B. Woodbury continued to work for Mathew Brady in Washington, D.C. even after Alexander Gardner struck out on his own. He is described by Frederic E. Ray as “arguably the best of the artists who stayed with Brady throughout the war.”

The 1860 Federal Census reveals that 21 year-old David B. Woodbury then lived in Norwalk, CT with the family of photographer and former jeweler & daguerreotypist — Edward T. Whitney.  After learning wet-plate photography from Boston’s famed photographer J.W. Black, Whitney moved to Norwalk, CT in 1859 from Rochester, NY.

1855 Humphrey's Journal of Photography  vol 07 n04_05 June 15, 1855 adAd in June 15, 1855 Humphrey’s Journal of Photography  Vol. 07, n0. 4.

It is very likely that David B. Woodbury first met and worked for Edward T. Whitney in Rochester because the Woodbury family relocated from Vermont to Rochester after 1850 but sometime prior to the taking of the 1855 New York State Census when David was 16 years old. Consequently, David probably moved to Norwalk with Whitney in 1859.

Detailing some of his professional and wartime experiences, Edward T. Whitney reminisced in 1884 that:

[ I must allude] to the valuable aid and instruction I received from Mr. A. W. Paradise [in New York City in the late 1840s], who was Mr. Brady’s right-hand man so many years, and who afterward became my partner in business. Also to the courtesy extended to me by Brady and Gurney, in whose galleries I was accorded access … In 1859, my health becoming impaired by use of cyanide, causing constant headache and weak eyes, I went to Norwalk, Conn., to recruit. In three weeks I recovered my health and decided to sell out in Rochester. Leaving a successful business, I returned to New York, opened a gallery at 585 Broadway with Mr. A. W. Paradise, also one in Norwalk, Conn.

1865 Trow's NY Register_p975 069 Whitney & Paradise

Business card in 1865 Trow’s New York City Directory

When the war broke out, Mr. Brady asked me to take my operator, Mr. Woodbury, and go into the field and make photographs for the Government of the scenes of the war. We went. Our first pictures were taken after the battle of Bull Run. We had a large covered wagon with two horses, and a heavy load of glass, apparatus, chemicals, and provisions  …  We spent the winter taking views of the fortifications around Washington and places of interest for the Government. But time will not allow me to go into detail of views taken at Yorktown, Williamsburgh, White House, Gaines Hill, Chickahominy, Seven Pines. During the seven days’ retreat from before Richmond to Harrison’s Landing, photographs were taken of James River from a balloon. At some other time, if desired, I may try to do justice to those times and scenes. Mr. Woodbury and myself were not the only ones connected with Brady in getting pictures of the war scenes … We endured the hardships of the camp, the difficulties of getting transportation, the sickening sights of the dead and dying, the danger of capture—and for what? To perpetuate for history the scenes of war, refusing to stop by the way to make portraits for money, which many were doing.

Mr. Whitney’s account gives us a nice general overview of some of David B. Woodbury’s Civil War experiences for the period of 1861 through part of 1862. But what of the rest of the war?

As a sort of “teaser,” the owner of the David B. Woodbury Collection posted at his auction site a low resolution image of the first page of a letter written by David B. Woodbury to his sister, Eliza, dated November 23, 1863. Here is what I was able to decipher within that image:

Washington

Nov 23, 1863

Dear Sister

I received yours of the 4th some time ago and was very glad to hear that you were doing so well and that Father and Mother … ??? … health. I was very sorry to hear of [Father?] being sick … wish to presume he is about well by this time. I went to Gettysburg on the 19th with Mr. Burger the superintendent of the Gallery here. We made some pictures of the crowd and Procession. We took our blankets and provisions with us expecting the crowd would be so great that not more than half would find lodgings. We found no trouble in getting both food and lodging.

The “Mr. Burger” who accompanied Woodbury to Gettysburg on November 19, 1863 undoubtedly is Anthony Berger who had journeyed with Woodbury to Gettysburg from Washington, D.C. in July of 1863 shortly after the conclusion of the great battle [Berger is best known for a number of photographs he took of Lincoln at Brady’s Washington, D.C. studio, the most recognizable of which graces the U.S. Five Dollar bill].

Berger manager-1864 Boyd's Directory-Wash DC-001 MB Brady at 288c

1864 Boyd’s Washington [D.C.] and Georgetown Directory (1863), p. 288 

After several days of familiarizing themselves with the Gettysburg battlefield terrain, they were joined in mid-July by their boss, Mathew B. Brady, whereupon they recorded a number of photographic views.  Thus, Messrs. Woodbury and Berger were quite familiar with Gettysburg and some of its inhabitants from their extended visit to that place a mere four months earlier.

Of the nine known photographs taken in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863, none are attributed by modern day scholars or photo-historians to David B. Woodbury, Anthony Berger, Mathew B. Brady, or anyone else who then worked or freelanced for Brady. The first page of David B. Woodbury’s letter to his sister Eliza reveals that he was in Gettysburg on the 19th of November and took photographs there “of the crowd and Procession” with another Brady man, Anthony Berger. It leaves us wondering what other nuggets of information are inscribed in Woodbury’s November 23 letter, including descriptions of the events of the day and whether he and Berger took any photographs on the cemetery grounds. This single letter may or may not contain extraordinary information previously hidden from historians (other than Ms. Cobb) about both the dedication event and the photographs that these two men created.

Detail (below) from a photograph (LC) taken looking out over the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery grounds on November 19, 1863 shows a photographer on a ladder above his assistant, to the right, who is standing next to an apparent portable darkroom on a tripod. The view of them is slightly impaired by some leafless tree branches but there is no doubt that these men were photographers. Might they be David B. Woodbury manning the camera while perched atop the ladder and Anthony Berger standing next to the portable darkroom?

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Some other questions have to be asked out loud — is it possible that Woodbury and Berger created any of the known Gettysburg images, such as, for example, the photo taken from a second floor window of the Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse attributed by William A. Frassanito to Peter S. Weaver (which would rule out them appearing in the above detail) or even the famous photo depicting Lincoln which Mr. Frassanito and others credit to David Bachrach? Might some or all of the Woodbury Gettysburg photos still await discovery in a dusty attic or a long-ago sealed box? Or were all of the glass plate exposures created by those men in Gettysburg on the 19th of November destroyed or placed somewhere forever out of our collective reach? Irrespective of the answers to these questions, the David B. Woodbury Collection may well constitute a gold mine for research into one photographer’s actions and experiences in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863 as well as at different times and places during the war.

Alexander Gardner mentioned in passing in his Sketchbook that he “attended the consecration of the Gettysburg Cemetery, and again visited the ‘Sharpshooter’s Home.'” David Bachrach commented briefly on his Gettysburg experience in a 1916 article, noting that he “did the technical work of photographing the crowd, not with the best results with wet plates, while Mr. Everett was speaking” and was then displeased with the 8″ x 10” “negatives” he took. Peter S. Weaver’s father wrote on November 26, 1863 that he “assisted Peter of getting a Negative of the large assembly on the Semetary [sic] ground, which I think is very fine, we have not as yet printed any Phot. of the Negative …” But it remains to be seen whether David B. Woodbury wrote in even greater detail elsewhere in his letter to his sister, some other letters, or within his diary about what he did and experienced in Gettysburg. Let’s hope that someday sooner rather than later the David B. Woodbury Collection is made available for scholarly review and analysis so that some of these questions can be answered and other new ones can be asked. In the mean time, the names of Messrs. David B. Woodbury and Anthony Berger appear to merit being added to the short and exclusive list of known Gettysburg dedication ceremony photographers.

— Craig Heberton IV, January 10, 2014

The cropped images in this post are all courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

Addressing What Lincoln is Doing While Seated on the Platform at Gettysburg

20 Dec

Martin P. Johnson, in his wonderful book Writing the Gettysburg Address (2013), describes that: “Lincoln’s journey to Gettysburg is encoded in the manuscripts and words of his speech and reflected in the texts of his revisions.” To Professor Johnson’s assessment I would append the following: “Lincoln’s journey to Gettysburg also is encoded within and revealed by the handful of photographs documenting his visit which survive to this very day.”

In 1952 Josephine Cobb discovered the image of Abraham Lincoln seated on the speakers’ platform at Gettysburg within a photograph taken on November 19, 1863. That photo is attributed to David Bachrach by William A. Frassanito (the “Bachrach photo”). For some time I have pondered whether Lincoln is holding an object in his right hand on the platform in the Bachrach photo — explaining why he is seen earnestly peering downwards in the direction of that object which is partially obscured by spectators’ hats in the foreground (see the object boxed in yellow, below).

object2 07639uIDs

What can be seen of the object suggests that it moved during the exposure as some blurring is noticeable above it (see below).

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Could it be that Lincoln was captured reviewing his written speech  — which several observers claim he removed from his coat pocket and glanced at during one point late in Everett’s oration? The object looks like it was folded — possibly even tri-folded. Might the object be a dark leather breast billfold or tri-fold inside of which rested the paper on which his address was written? Or, rather than a long secretary’s breast coat wallet, is it the very paper on which the address was notated? The likelihood that the object is the paper on which the Gettysburg Address was written is diminished by the fact that (1) it is very dark and rigid looking and (2) both the so-called Nicolay copy — thought by most scholars to constitute the oration copy held by Lincoln on the speakers’ platform — and the Hay copy exhibit horizontal and not vertical folds on both of their two pages.

An eyewitness to the event, Professor Henry E. Jacobs, then a student at Gettysburg’s Lutheran Seminary, recollected that:

“As Mr. Everett was closing his oration, Mr. Lincoln, I thought, was showing some of that nervousness, which, according to Cicero, characterizes all successful oratory. His mind evidently was not on what Mr. Everett was saying, but on his own speech. He drew from his pocket a metallic case and adjusted a pair of steel glasses near the top of his nose. Then, reaching into the side pocket of his coat, he produced a crumpled sheet of paper, which he first carefully smoothed and then read for a few minutes. By this time Mr. Everett had reached his final periods.”

Is Lincoln wearing oh-so-hard-to-see steel framed glasses in the Bachrach photo? Pay careful attention to the left side of his face and the temple arm of his reading glasses which appears to be running from his left ear to his left eye as well as the hint of reflective material above each of his eyes. A portion of the glasses’ end piece on the right side of his face also may visible framed by his dark hair (see detail below which has been darkened to better reveal Lincoln’s spectacles).

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I also have wondered for what reason Bachrach chose to time this photograph in order to illustrate Lincoln looking downward rather than facing out at the crowd or even towards the keynote speaker — Edward Everett — who then was standing to his left?

If you believe that Bachrach only desired a generic shot of the speakers’ platform, then the timing of this photograph didn’t matter in that the behavior and appearance of Lincoln and others on the rostrum would have been immaterial. But if Bachrach was trying to capture a photograph with a compelling view of Lincoln, then I have to believe that he chose this particular moment because Lincoln could be seen holding the actual “reading copy” of his Gettysburg Address for what may have been a final inspection some time prior to his oration. Many years after 1863, Bachrach wrote that “the negatives,  8 x 10, [taken at Gettysburg] were of no real interest, I then thought, and … [they were  left] for the woodcut artist.” Because he had produced a very fine generic crowd scene at the Gettysburg dedication ceremony, Bachrach’s dismissive contemporaneous assessment of that scene tells us that he had wanted something more than an image of a throng of spectators gathered around a raised platform. Rather, his account demonstrates that he must have hoped to capture a distinctive image of Lincoln and possibly other dignitaries on the elevated platform, such as Everett, but deemed his effort a failure. Therefore, it is not a reach in logic to conclude that, notwithstanding his distance from the rostrum, Bachrach intentionally timed his view with the purpose in mind of creating a glass plate image of Lincoln holding and reviewing his written dedicatory address while Everett still was standing and orating his lengthy keynote speech. Unfortunately, the image of Everett’s highly blurred face which Bachrach captured proved even less satisfactory than Lincoln’s (see below).

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What do you think? What do you see in these images? Is Lincoln holding something and eyeballing it through his reading glasses or is this apparent object merely a portion of the lapel of his frock coat?

The arguments against the dark object constituting part of his overcoat include that: it is much larger and darker than any other portion of his coat (including the visible coat lapels); the same rectangular area of darkness cannot be seen on the opposite side of his coat lapel; a coat lapel would exhibit softer, more rounded lines as opposed to the parallelogram-like lines and angles framing the object; only the dark object — and no other portion of Lincoln’s frock coat — moved during the several second exposure time of the photograph; and a portion of the object appears to obscure some of Lincoln’s tie. Also, the fact that the left portion (from the viewer’s perspective) of the dark object fronts a lighter-colored top hat probably resulted from the hat being held by the man seated nearest to Lincoln’s right — his personal secretary John Nicolay. This means that the dark object was held away from Lincoln’s torso at a sufficient distance to create such an effect. If the left portion of the dark object fronting the lighter-colored hat was part of Lincoln’s coat lapel, it would not be framed by someone’s hat in the background. Instead, it would be framed by the rest of Lincoln’s frock coat.

We are reminded by these image details that historical evidence can be buried deep within old photographs. Clearly, Bachrach, like fellow photographer Alexander Gardner, did more than try to obtain generic crowd shots at the Gettysburg dedication ceremony. A careful study of the surviving photographs — combined with a critical review of the written record — can reveal to us the intentions of the photographers who were present in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. For example, the man crouched down and peering over Lincoln’s right shoulder in the Bachrach photo is Wayne MacVeagh, then a District Attorney for Chester County, PA and a Republican party power broker in Pennsylvania (see him boxed in red in cropped detail, below).

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The fact that he squatted down next to President Lincoln, looked directly at Bachrach’s camera, and posed for the camera reveals that he could see that Bachrach was taking a photograph at that moment. Other men circled in yellow (two of whom are Judge Olin — 2nd from right — and Lt. Cochrane, far right) in the image, above, likewise looked directly at Bachrach’s camera and possibly were tipped off to do so by McVeagh’s behavior. MacVeagh clearly wanted to be memorialized with his face situated near Lincoln’s face and he posed himself in such a way to demonstrate that he understood that Bachrach intended to make Lincoln the centerpiece of his photographic effort (see expanded detail, below). Lt. Henry C. Cochrane, a Marine Band escort, wrote to his father on November 21, 1863 that: “At the cemetery I was again favored, with a seat on the stand, and was totally enveloped by civil and military dignitaries…. Some photographic views were taken of Nicolay, Lincoln & Everett, and I believe my countenance appears in the background, if so, I must surely get one as a ‘souvenir.'”

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In an interview with the Daily Louisville Commercial published on November 12, 1879, Lincoln’s Attorney General and friend James Speed, relayed how Lincoln explained that:

“He took what he had written [in Washington] with him to Gettysburg, then he was put in an upper room in a house [the David Wills’ house where he spent the night of November 18th], and he asked to be left alone for a time. He then prepared a speech, but concluded it so shortly before it was to be delivered he had not time to memorize it.”

Accounts of several people, including Oho Governor Tod, the Canadian foreign minister  William McDougall, John Nicolay (one of Lincoln’s personal secretaries), Sergeant James Rebert (who guarded Lincoln’s room on the morning of the 19th), and several others support the contention that Lincoln visited a portion of the battlefield very early on the morning of November 19th, was deeply moved by the experience, and then further modified a portion of his Address shortly before he mounted the horse upon which he rode in the procession to the cemetery grounds.

These observations and bits of evidence speak volumes about what the photographer intended and what at least one person on the speakers’ platform understood Bachrach was then seeking to capture when this photograph was exposed. They also corroborate some of the eyewitness accounts and enhance our understanding of what transpired in connection with Lincoln’s “few appropriate remarks.” Maybe by now “seeing” the actual copy of the Gettysburg Address, and Lincoln studying it on the dedication rostrum apparently in an effort to memorize his most recent edits and mentally add the phrase “under God,” we are now another step closer to reaching a consensus over whether the Nicolay copy, folds and all, really is Lincoln’s oration copy. 

Lincoln on platform

— Craig Heberton IV, December 20, 2013

The cropped images in this post are all courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

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The Photos of Lincoln at Gettysburg Under Debate – Which is Lincoln?

27 Sep

Pictures tell the story here and the experts differ on their interpretation of the photographs in determining which figure is Lincoln. There are tantalizing observations supporting why each of their picks for Lincoln, either in one or two of the Alexander Gardner stereoscopic scenes, is more credible. Evidence within the historical record and the context of what can be seen, however, are contrary to Professor Oakley’s position but supportive of Heberton’s. Take a look at the photographic evidence for yourself and then read some of the detailed research Heberton has compiled in support of his findings and compare it with that of animation expert Oakley and the opinions of the Civil War photography experts featured in the October 2013 issue of SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE:

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

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1st Gardner photo detail: Heberton’s Lincoln boxed in red; position of Oakley’s Lincoln in green; from about a 150 degree angle to the front of the speakers’ platform.

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Zoomed detail from 1st photo showing Heberton’s Lincoln’s face within shadows cast by brim of his stovepipe hat;
he is on his horse directly in front of the speakers’ platform with a boy appearing to be about 10 years old on the front of his saddle; he is facing away from the platform generally in the direction of a tall eagle finial topped staff; this photo probably depicts a brief solemn ceremony performed upon Lincoln’s arrival within the procession near the front of the platform

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Detail from 1st Gardner photo shows Lincoln’s outlined face and boxed white gloved hand

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2nd Gardner photo detail (right stereo): Heberton’s Lincoln boxed in red; Oakley’s in green; both remain in same positions as the 1st Gardner photo

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2nd Gardner photo detail (left stereo): Heberton’s Lincoln boxed in red; Oakley’s in green

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Zoomed detail from 2nd Gardner photo (right stereo) showing “ghost image” possibly of Heberton’s Lincoln’s face in a long exposure photo in which several other people also are represented by multiple images

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Zoomed detail from 2nd Gardner photo (right stereo) showing “ghost image” possibly of Heberton’s Lincoln’s face in a long exposure photo in which several other people also are represented by multiple images
Direct view of stand

Detail from photo attributed to David Bachrach taken at about a 65 degree angle to speakers platform; Lincoln was discovered seated in the center of the front row of the platform in 1952 with his head tilted to his right; compare positions of several people marked in this photo with their positions marked in detail from the Gardner photos, below:

Oakley vs. Heberton Lincoln Comparison Photo

Comparison of the 1st (above) and 2nd (below) Gardner photos showing the static positioning of several key people, including Oakley’s candidates for Lincoln (boxed in red) and Seward (boxed in yellow) on the extreme far right end of the platform seated behind several men; note particularly the positioning of the Cowlick aide in the Bachrach photo and the Gardner photos to get a sense of the relative perspectives of the two photographers and how out of place Oakley’s Lincoln is to Lincoln’s seating in the Bachrach photo

Experts differ on what these photos reveal and where Lincoln is located.  Can you find him?  Heberton’s research and analysis explains why Oakley’s Lincoln cannot possibly be Lincoln based upon WHERE the professor has located him (about to be seated at the far right end of the platform) in only the 2nd Gardner photo and WHAT Oakley claims he was then doing (climbing steps leading to the lowest level of the platform):

First, go to the Bachrach photo and find Sec. of State Seward and President Lincoln seated in the center of the front row upon the lowest level of the platform. Then within the same photograph find the Cowlick aide (one of Chief Marshal Lamon’s ceremonial aides) — who is facing towards Seward and Lincoln — as well as the Dark hat man (behind the Cowlick aide) and the Beard Man (behind Gov. Tod). From right to left, the people visible in the front row on the speaker’s platform are — Gov. Tod, Gov. Seymour, Gov. Curtin, Gov. Curtin’s son, the Cowlick aide (standing), Judge Casey (another white sashed marshal’s aide who is standing), Provost Marshal General James B. Fry who was Lincoln’s special escort (standing – he probably is a step back from the front row), Edward Everett (standing probably while orating), Lincoln, and Ward Hill Lamon (then occupying the seat for Edward Everett), etc. Notice too where Italian Minister Bertinatti is seated and that he and the men around him are at an odd angle vis-a-vis the three governors in the front row. If this photo detail extended further to the right, you would come to the area where Oakley claims his Seward is seated and his Lincoln will be seated several rows BEHIND the front row. This area is best pinpointed by locating the Cowlick aide particularly in the 1st Gardner photo (with his distinctive cowlick sticking out from the left side of his head like a horn).  His back is to Gardner’s camera in both the 1st and 2nd Gardner photos. Whereas the Cowlick aide faces Lincoln in the Bachrach photo, it clearly can be seen that Oakley’s Lincoln was seated several rows BEHIND the Cowlick aide in the Gardner photos and, therefore, cannot possibly be Lincoln because he should be seated beyond and on the OTHER side of the Cowlick aide. Oakley’s Lincoln and Seward are located nowhere near the real Lincoln and Seward.

Gardner’s first stereo view – aka 652 – (First, second, third, fourth & fifth photos, above):

This detail is from the left stereo, file 17807u.if, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.00652/

Gardner’s second stereo view – aka 673 – right stereo (sixth, eighth & ninth photos, above):

This detail is from the RIGHT stereo, file 17806a.tif, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ppmsca.17806/

Gardner’s second stereo view – aka 673 – left stereo (Seventh photo, above):

This is detail from the LEFT stereo, file 04063.tif, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ds.04063/

David Bachrach’s photo (Tenth photo, above):

This detail is from Bachrach’s photo, file 07639.tif, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.07639/

Comparison between detail in Gardner’s 1st stereo view and his 2nd stereo view (Eleventh photo above):

This detail in the top image is taken from the left stereo of Gardner’s 1st photo, file 17807u.if, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.00652/

The detail in the bottom image is taken from the left stereo of Gardner’s 2nd photo, file 04063.tif, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ds.04063/

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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