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A Sad Sight from the Civil War

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  • A Sad Sight from the Civil War

    Here's a New York Times article from their series looking at the Civil War. This one concerns photographs from the Battlefield of Antietam/Sharpsburg. It includes one dead horse.

    Here's another article on the same topic, with a better picture (if you can call it that.)

    **********
    Starts with an 'S,' ends with a 'T.' You figure it out.

    **********
    "Houston, Tranquility Base here, picking up where we left off ..."

  • #2
    I am a Civil War buff, and that photograph is quite famous. It's been reprinted in many of my books about the war. One can understand why. The picture is haunting. The horse looks although it is just resting there. In spite of the incredible carnage of Antietam, with bodies everywhere, many eyewitnesses remembered the horse.
    I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne

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    • #3
      millions of horses died in this war. As sad as that was; they were disposable "machinery" in those times

      Comment


      • #4
        I wonder if he was "rolled" into this position while getting the tack off.

        A poignant picture nonetheless.

        Comment


        • #5
          So were the men........

          Originally posted by daisycutter87 View Post
          millions of horses died in this war. As sad as that was; they were disposable "machinery" in those times
          The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
          H. Cate

          Comment


          • #6
            'If you can call it a picture'?

            yes, it is a visual image.
            And if you didn't know it was dead, you could not tell.
            Unlike the pictures of dead and dieing men.

            The photographer did a marvelous job to capture the battle field, for those who heard about the battles, but didn't see it.
            And preserved the atrocities of war for the following generations, so we may learn from it.
            Horse or man, what is the difference? War is ugly.
            Horses back then were worth little, the men little more.
            Actually horses were probably harder to replace (at least in the north).

            I have seen pictures of the WWI battle fields as well. It is an intense sensation, especially when you stand in a museum on the grounds on which those men died (Verdun is worth a trip).

            I have seen images of men who had their facial features ripped off in a crotesc manner and I could not help but wonder how a person with no lower jaw could survive this type of injury in the early 20th century. not sure how they would manage today.

            I find the picture rather unimpressive. Even with the context.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Alagirl View Post
              Horse or man, what is the difference? War is ugly.
              Horses back then were worth little, the men little more.
              One difference is that the horses had nothing whatsoever to do with instigating the war they died in. Humans did (and yes, I realize that most of the people who died in the war didn't specifically influence the politics that started it).

              Another difference is that we already honor our human dead in a number of ways. Not so with horses.

              And then there's the fact that we wouldn't be allowed to post about human Civil War fatalities on a horse-topics-only forum.

              There's a Tessa Pullan statue (commissioned by Paul Mellon) memorializing Civil War horses in front of the National Sporting Library in Middleburg--and apparently there are several reproductions of it elsewhere (Fort Riley, Kansas and at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia).

              http://www.nsl.org/sites/default/fil...%20HORSE_0.pdf
              Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow.

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              • #8
                Pardon my ignorance, but what is up with that horse's hind end? Is that just relaxation of the rectal muscles due to death and the release of bowels was incomplete so to speak? Or prolapse? Or ???

                On a more relevant note, I can totally understand why that picture is so haunting. Wow...
                Flip a coin. It's not what side lands that matters, but what side you were hoping for when the coin was still in the air.

                You call it boxed wine. I call it carboardeaux.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Mathew Brady, who as a/the photographer during the civil war was known to "stage" his photographs. He would move bodies around, get rid of gear, add gear, etc. He very well could have propped up this horse's head and tucked his legs.

                  Mathew Brady also had a slew of photographers working for him and he would credit ALL of the images from the war under his name.
                  www.facebook.com/doggonegoodgoodies
                  http://doggonebakedgoods.com/

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Windsor1 View Post
                    Another difference is that we already honor our human dead in a number of ways. Not so with horses.
                    There's always War Horse. Wrong war, I know, but it's a touching tribute nonetheless.

                    "What's so civil about war, anyway?" - Axl Rose.
                    Dreaming in Color

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Regardless whether Mr Brady staged the position of this horse, it is still very haunting. As well I appreciate the link to the memorial statue.
                      Last edited by ReSomething; Nov. 19, 2012, 03:30 PM.
                      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                      Incredible Invisible

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MunchingonHay View Post
                        Mathew Brady, who as a/the photographer during the civil war was known to "stage" his photographs. He would move bodies around, get rid of gear, add gear, etc. He very well could have propped up this horse's head and tucked his legs.

                        Mathew Brady also had a slew of photographers working for him and he would credit ALL of the images from the war under his name.
                        Yup, he sure did. He also would take the same battle scene, photograph it from different angles, move bodies in or out of the shot...and let his audience think it was a new photo from somewhere else in the battlefield altogether. Years later that fact was discovered, and so his photographs began to lack credibility for (often) not being true candid shots.

                        A dead horse generally won't stay up on it's brisket on it's own, but this one apparently did if you read the account of Brigadier General Alpheus S. Williams who rode over the battlefield after the fighting was over. Very sad.
                        Last edited by pdq; Nov. 19, 2012, 05:01 PM. Reason: sp & link

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Horses back then were worth little, the men little more.
                          No, horses were worth a great deal, as were the men. Neither was willingly thrown away as cannon fodder - it cost too much to replace them. Battles could be won or lost on how well the commanding officer took care to preserve his men, and his animals, by judicious battlefield strategy. Commanders that proved to be stupid in that regard were quickly replaced by their superiors.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jen-s View Post
                            Pardon my ignorance, but what is up with that horse's hind end? Is that just relaxation of the rectal muscles due to death and the release of bowels was incomplete so to speak? Or prolapse? Or ???

                            On a more relevant note, I can totally understand why that picture is so haunting. Wow...

                            All of the body's sphincter muscles loosen after death. The pressure pushes the contents out.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've always been haunted by that photo, even more so with the context given in the NYT article.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by pdq View Post
                                No, horses were worth a great deal, as were the men. Neither was willingly thrown away as cannon fodder - it cost too much to replace them. Battles could be won or lost on how well the commanding officer took care to preserve his men, and his animals, by judicious battlefield strategy. Commanders that proved to be stupid in that regard were quickly replaced by their superiors.

                                well, the north had a constant influx of Irish...so much so they did not need to exchange prisoners with the south to keep their ranks filled.

                                But I think this is taking the OP to far off the track.

                                I don't find the pictures particularly good or bad.
                                but I am grateful they do exist, even if there are inaccuracies at the hand of the photographer.
                                While at the time people died and got maimed on a regular basis, visible to all plenty of times, I think the battle field images shocked even then.

                                To us, so much removed from this type of violence and carnage is alien. The statement of 'at this battle 20.ooo men died' is far from the dirty painful truth!
                                Or the hell the wounded had to expect, when minor scratches could very well result in amputation or death by infection.

                                I get the 'OMG the HORSES' sentiment. I almost broke down crying when I watched a biographical movie about Winston Churchill while I was pregnant.

                                As to honoring the fallen....the Greatest Generation had to wait 60 years for their memorial....so much for the honor for the men and women who saved the world!

                                (but seriously, while the armies were volunteers, once signed up, they had no say so as to where to go. War is a matter of old men telling young men where to go and die. Truth be told on either side they would rather go out for a beer than kill each other. Naturally this is not true for current conflicts as they are so far off the chart)

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by pdq View Post
                                  No, horses were worth a great deal, as were the men. Neither was willingly thrown away as cannon fodder - it cost too much to replace them. Battles could be won or lost on how well the commanding officer took care to preserve his men, and his animals, by judicious battlefield strategy. Commanders that proved to be stupid in that regard were quickly replaced by their superiors.
                                  This was the fact with some officers, but with others not so much. Custer had some of the highest casualty ratios of any Union officer. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, a Union cavalry commander who lost a lot of people, was commonly known as "Gen. Kill Cavalry." Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood ordered a full, frontal assault entrenched Union troops at Franklin, TN because his troops "lacked enthusiasm for the offensive." There were others on both sides with decided lack of concern for their troops.

                                  Even officers with an understanding of costs made assaults that were ill-advised. Gen. Grant had Cold Harbor and Gen. Lee had Pickett's Charge.

                                  Gen. Sherman was, and is, the Prophet of Modern Warfare. His famous words are as right today as they were when he said, "War is cruelty. There's no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over."

                                  For horses and for men.

                                  G.
                                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    There is an exhibition on art of the Civil War up at the Smithsonian right now. I know the person who put it together (who happens to be a horse person! ) and even the online sections are really interesting. I wish I was close enough to go see it in person.

                                    http://americanart.si.edu/exhibition...art_civil_war/
                                    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by katarine View Post
                                      All of the body's sphincter muscles loosen after death. The pressure pushes the contents out.
                                      Yes, I realize that, but I would expect the pile to be on the ground, not halfway out/suspended. It just seemed...odd. That's why I wondered if it might be prolapse either instead of or in addition to a pile that hasn't dropped.

                                      I felt rather gauche asking what to me seems an academic question that to someone else might be deemed horribly insensitive, but in light of the criticism of the photographer, I feel a bit less awkward questioning the staging of the scene.
                                      Flip a coin. It's not what side lands that matters, but what side you were hoping for when the coin was still in the air.

                                      You call it boxed wine. I call it carboardeaux.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by jen-s View Post
                                        Yes, I realize that, but I would expect the pile to be on the ground, not halfway out/suspended. It just seemed...odd. That's why I wondered if it might be prolapse either instead of or in addition to a pile that hasn't dropped.

                                        I felt rather gauche asking what to me seems an academic question that to someone else might be deemed horribly insensitive, but in light of the criticism of the photographer, I feel a bit less awkward questioning the staging of the scene.
                                        Your question is fair and reasonable. How does one learn without asking questions? Even ones on "delicate" or "difficult" or "unpleasant" subjects?

                                        G.
                                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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