Yet another photograph from war zone. It’s astonishing how so many iconic photos come from the battlefields, protests and attacks. Today’s photograph also shows death… a harvest of death, in fact!
This is one of the first war photographs ever taken. The American Civil War took place between 1861 to 1865. Eleven southern slave states of America declared their secession from USA and began to fight for their freedom. These eleven states formed Confederate States of America, also known as “the Confederacy”. The first and only President of the Confederacy was Jefferson Davis. Robert E. Lee was the Commander of the Confederate forces and he won battles in Virgina but took heavy loses in the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which was fought from July 1-3, 1863.
This photograph was taken by Timothy H. O’Sullivan after the Battle of Gettysburg on 4-5 July 1863. Timothy had joined the Union Army and did photography for the army. Later, after leaving the army, he found employment with Mathew Brady who was also a photographer.
On Internet, several sources provide wrong information about this photograph and credit it to Mathew Brady. The truth is that Timothy was only employed by Mathew Brady. Also, this photograph is wrongly shown as having the title “Federal Dead on the Field of Battle of First Day”. But in reality, this photograph is titled “A Harvest of Death”. Both Brady and O’Sullivan are known for their photography during the Civil War.
“A Harvest of Death” photograph shows a number of corpses of Union soldiers scattered in the battle field of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This photograph was taken of 5th or 6th July 1863. When published the photograph brought the horrors of the battle field back to the civil society. As I said, it is one the oldest war photographs —before this the general public had not really seen how the life go waste in wars.
Later O’Sullivan joined the studio of Alexander Gardner. When Gardner published the very first collection of photos from war zone, it included 44 photographs taken by O’Sullivan. This collection was titled: Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War.
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