Period Photographs

The Dead

As the technology available to journalists improves, each war is covered more graphically, and each generation of the home front is offered more explicit war coverage. The Civil War was the first to be heavily photographed. While the War Department of the time did not forbid such pictures, they did encourage that the home front be shown Confederate dead, not Union.

I considered not posting these pictures. In the cool analytical sense, they do emphasize a point made throughout Sickles' Hole. For three days, the Union took the high ground, and the Confederates fought up hill battles. The photographers found their gruesome scenes on or near slopes.

But cool and analytical be damned. There is another element to these photos, a timeless element. It seems proper enough to caption these pictures with a writer speaking of another time, and another place. The following was found on the body of war correspondent Ernie Pyle.

And so it is over. The catastrophe on one side of the world has run its course. The day that it had so long seemed would never come has come at last.

I suppose emotions here in the Pacific are the same as they were among the Allies all over the world. First a shouting of the good news with such joyous surprise that you would think the shouter himself had brought it about.

And then an unspoken sense of gigantic relief - and then a hope that the collapse in Europe would hasten the end in the Pacific.

It has been seven months since I heard my last shot in the European war. Now I am as far away from it as it is possible to get on this globe.

This is written on a little ship laying off the coast of the Island of Okinawa, just south of Japan, on the other side of the world from Ardennes.

But my heart is still in Europe, and that's why I am writing this column.

It is to the boys who were my friends for so long. My one regret of the war is that I was not with them when it ended.

For the companionship of two-and-a-half years of death and misery is a spouse that tolerates no divorce. Such companionship finally becomes a part of one's soul, and it cannot be obliterated.

True, I am with American boys in the other war not yet ended, but I am old-fashioned and my sentiment runs to old things.

To me the European war is old, and the Pacific war is new.

Last summer I wrote that I hoped the end of the war could be a gigantic relief, but not an elation. In the joyousness of high spirits it is easy for us to forget the dead. Those who are gone would not wish themselves to be a millstone of gloom around our necks.

But there are many of the living who have had burned into their brains forever the unnatural sight of cold dead men scattered over the hillsides and in the ditches along the high rows of hedge throughout the world.

Dead men by mass production - in one country after another - month after month and year after year. Dead men in winter and dead men in summer.

Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that they become monotonous.

Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come almost to hate them.

These are the things that you at home need not even try to understand. To you at home they are columns of figures, or he is a near one who went away and just didn't come back. You didn't see him lying so grotesque and pasty beside the gravel road in France.

We saw him, saw him by the multiple thousands. That's the difference...

Confederate Dead near McPhearson's Woods (July 1) cwp 4a39433

Union dead near where Reynolds fell cwp 4a39432

Confederate dead in Devil's Den cwp 4a39439

4 Dead in the woods near Little Round Top cwp 4a39435

Dead in 'slaughter pen,' foot of Round Top cwp 4a39438

Wheat Field dead cwp 4a39431

3,500 +
Missing / Captured
Total Casualties
21,550 +
44,600 +



"Columns of Figures"

No, these two sets of numbers do not add up and agree with one another. I shall seek alternate sources, but the Confederate casualty figures by all accounts are but approximate. These numbers are likely low.

Next: Memorial Pictures