16 January 2013

Cleaning a Civil War battlefield

April 1865. "Cold Harbor, Virginia. Collecting remains of dead on the battlefield after the war." Memento mori. Wet plate by John Reekie. 
Click photo for bigger.  The Battle of Cold Harbor was in May and June of 1864.  It's interesting that scavengers and insects defleshed the skulls in less than a year.  A page at the National Park Service had this photo -

- of a stump from the "Bloody Angle" Confederate entrenchment.  The trunk of the 22-inch [diameter?] tree was completely severed by bullets.

Image cropped (while preserving the watermark) from the original at Shorpy.


  1. Very interesting. Doesn't look like there's much left though. :(

  2. Man, talk about History's Worst Jobs!
    Reminds me of the opening sequence of Polanski's "Macbeth" where the soldier is walking along the beach, checking to make sure the enemy 'corpses' really are dead. You can imagine what happens when he finds one that isn't....

  3. My father belonged to a Civil War shooting group (not re-enactors, just marksmen). The last event in almost every match was to have teams shoot a telephone pole in half. For a six-man team using rifled muskets and .58 caliber minie balls, it never took very long.

  4. Does the second skull from the right have a dagger in the eye? Or do I need new glasses? (The latter is more likely, I suspect.)

    1. It's explained in the comments at Shorpy.

    2. If you expand the picture the "dagger" or whatever it is, is clearly behind the skull and below the left eye socket.


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