SH Archive American Civil War a Photographic History OP Username
sharonr OP Date
2018-09-02 21:14:52 Reaction Score
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Sep 8, 2020
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I came across this very interesting volume regarding the American Civil War during my research into the strange picture anomalies recorded during this period and feel like I sort of hit the jackpot. This is Volume 2, and there are a total of 10 Volumes. I have not looked at any other Volumes yet, but this book itself is 364 pages and was quite a bit to review in itself.

What I would like to do is present a few* of the photographs from this book, including the captions and then make some personal comments on my take. The direct link is below, and I encourage you to scroll through the book yourself. What I would like to focus on is the pictures that are recorded. I feel I am getting one story from the pictures, and then a whole other story from the captions. You will soon see what I mean. It truly is propaganda at it's best.

*After getting through this I realize I did a lot more than a few, but didn't even cover the end of the book. I find this fascinating. I chose to include all of this material because I wanted to portray an abridged version of volume 2, but there is a lot there. I could have just posted the link and left it at that. Sorry this is so long. For those that are interested in this, I'm sure it is alright. It's just that this particular point in time, with photography being "new" and a massive war going on, there is a lot to cover. If I'm to claim that something else went down instead of what we are told, I think you have to look at all the evidence. Maybe I over did it, but there is a lot of interesting stuff going on here.

First, a bit of my background and why I am covering the Civil War (American): I was born a raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia. A hot spot of Civil War activity. It surrounded me from every side, and I think the entire region, including Chancellorsville, Wilderness, Bull Run, ect. ect. was supposedly the sites of massive amount of battles. I also went to university in Richmond (VCU, not the University OF Richmond) another important player in the war. I've lived in the city of Richmond a total of 13 years and Fredericksburg a total of 24. My family is NOT from Fredericksburg originally, my dad grew up in Iowa, my mom Florida, and we moved there from California right before my birth in 1973, around 110 years from when these photos were taken.

About this volume 2: It was published in 1911, about 48 years after the pictures were taken. There are no first hand accounts included (well there are, but very dubious retellings), but they describe themselves as EXPERTS on what went on. They seemed to know exactly what went on.

Some of the points I observed I will use pictures to illustrate. These are just my personal observations and may mean nothing at all:

  1. I don't see anything obvious that determines that this is indeed 1863. Nothing seems much different from 1863 photos to 1900 photos (not from the book, but my own other research.)
  2. The book starts out with a lot of pictures of men, not even in uniform, fixing bridges, railroad bridges, building pontoons to cross rivers, tents, ect. but I am certainly not seeing anything war related in the beginning photos, the captions are another story....(the captions are on the pages with the pictures)
  3. There are no photos of actual battles.
  4. There are some photos of troops, only Union troops, but I never saw what could amount to thousands of troops. Will elaborate with book excerpt below.
  5. There are cannons but not many pictures with them. I don't have any ideas about the cannons.
  6. There are dead bodies, many pictures of dead men, most with out any guns, but there are a few where they have their guns.
  7. Pictures of dead animals, some are mysterious, most are dead horses (pretty sad).
  8. There are a lot of barren landscapes and some ruins. There are also a lot of intact towns. The pictures of the towns, houses and civilians are interesting in their own right. What was going on?
  9. There are pictures of the American Flag, but NO pictures of the Confederate Flag. There is only 1 picture of Confederate troops which is probably my favorite, it is so strange and weird, very dark shadowy figures, no facial distinction at all, where as all the photos of the Union troops are very clear. This picture was taken in Fredericksburg which is pretty cool to me.
  10. They are mostly in rural areas and small towns.
  11. There is only ONE army. Except for the one picture of the Confederates supposedly, there is only one army trooping through the land: north, south, east and west. Just one army we can see.
My goal with this post is for others who are interested to possibly look at the photos with no story in your head (obviously you know the story, but I think you know what I mean), read the captions of the official story and let me know if we can make head or tales of what is really going on. Obviously going to the link and looking at the entire volume will help, but this is a at least a start.

The photographic history of the Civil War : thousands of scenes photographed 1861-65

Below is the link to the entire book. Please go there and scroll through the entire book. It is fascinating in its way. I didn't want to copy and paste the entire book, so I just chose a few pictures. (which ended up being a lot of pictures).

The photographic history of the Civil War : thousands of scenes photographed 1861-65, with text by many special authorities

First I would like to start with this gem. Abe Lincoln and his top secret service man (to Abe's right) and his top general, to his left. Notice the hidden hands (wink wink). Please read all the captions as you go along. Obviously my point is the pictures tell a story and the captions tell another I am not quite seeing. Except for the one weird picture, there are no Confederate troops or flags, but lots and lots is written about them.


The only photo of the very mysterious, shadowy, and dark Confederates. The shadows on the buildings do not match the darkness of their faces, in my opinion. This picture is my favorite since I think it is one of the strangest. And this is the ONLY photo they have of these mysterious and elusive Confederate troops. (There are obviously other pictures of Confederates, but this is the only one in these "real time" volumes. (note this is out of sequence.)

This is Wiki's caption: Here is the only known instance in which the Union photographers succeeded in getting a near view of the Confederate troops. Mathew Brady's photo shows the other bank of Rappahannock after General Lee allowed Federal troops to collect bodies of fallen soldiers.[54]


So to start in semi procession, we are in the northern part of Virginia, which is supposed to be confederate territory. Although even today there are arguments between Fredericksburg and anywhere north of Stafford county who is really Southern. Fredericksburg claims it is the last real southern city and wants nothing to do with Northern Virginia (or better known as the DC suburbs). At least when I was there. My parents and brother still live there. But as for the pictures, they blur the line also. Anything above Fredericksburg seems northern territory, but Virginia did secede from the Union. There is no evidence really of any enemies south either. Actually I get the sense the Union army was just traipsing all over the place not paying any mind to who lived there.

To me the pictures do not show anyone that appears to be a soldier. Sometime very mysterious soldier figures will show up in a photo as if placed there. They are fun to look for. But for the most part I am not seeing an army. They look like regular people (civilians). The captions have a whole other point of view. (The army will show up later).

These pictures are the beginning of the book. I don't even see a cannon until page 63. Please go to the link to see the entire thread. But mostly what I see are regular civilians making repairs to damaged railroad tracks and bridges. In the two right images below, there is a crew attempting to turn over a rolled train. The caption claims they are regular citizens helping the union efforts (in Virginia). There are several black men helping in the efforts. The pictures of the bridges ect. are again a crew of army engineers, I guess why they are not in uniform. This is in Northern Virginia, second battle of Bull Run. Please note in the right bottom picture (rolled train) the very strange looking Union Soldier in what looks like having been placed in the photo. He just looks odd compared to the others. You will see this in other strange photos of what appear to be regular ole civilians.

There is lots of train and bridge damage throughout. Seems like what they are mostly concerned about in the beginning. (there are more pictures in the link).

7956 7957 7960 79617962

Enter the slave fugitives. The caption goes on about the decision to recruit run away slaves into their service, although the man on the horse looks like he is just trying to cross a river and he has no shoes on. But in the right photo, the young black man is obviously in uniform....watching a wagon cross a river.


I love the below photo. This could be a single stand alone photo in itself (like the one of the Confederate soldiers and Abe and his men.) It's a bunch of what looks like civilians goofing off on top of the Fairfax, VA courthouse. Please note the second figure from the left. There is your mysterious soldier. Completely out of place.

A lot of scenery shots where the supposed battles took place. Really not seeing signs of WAR though. (a little out of sequence, but I don't think matters for my photo journey). That last one on right is particularly interesting when you read the top caption.


Now we head North and see cannons for the first time. We will also start seeing dead bodies. Very eery and a bit disturbing. (had to remove the pictures because there were too many, but there are dead bodies below)

And then we are immediately back South, in Fredericksburg. The below picture is taken just after the battle. Hmmmm.... it was supposed to be a pretty intense battle, the field you see is the north bank of the Rappahanock (the side our house is on. Supposedly they found Union bullets when digging the foundation for our basement). The Union came in from the north and used pontoon boats/bridges to attack the town. I just don't see evidence of the "mass of troops" lining the banks, with tents and cannons. The earth doesn't seem to be bothered at all. (See the caption). And I am not trying to say there are no armies, weapons, or death. There is plenty of that, just not appearing as it is told.

The left photo (I had to remove because I had too many photos) is the left flank of pontoon bridges the North used to storm the city. Again, I want to point out there are a lot of bridges out all over. Maybe something went down to take them all out. The pontoon bridges make sense. I don't know what happened to remove all these bridges, but I am not seeing evidence yet of major battles. We will get to a lot of dead bodies though, and they are very mysterious.


Below is the Union general headquarters. After he resigned (or was fired) the house burned (it doesn't state anything about who started it ect.) but supposedly those are some troops trying to put out the fire and the right picture are the ruins. It does seem to be the same house.

The picture on the right is another demolished generals headquarters but this was definitely caused by the Confederates (those very elusive, never to be seen Confederates). The caption gives a great description of what happened.


Now the story is changing and we are getting troops and dead bodies and dead horses with carts.


Notice the picture on left is cropped. The camp on right is for a different battle, farther south.


You have to read the caption on the picture to the left. No where in any picture do I see evidence of 135,000 men (and that's just on one side). But they tell the story. Two different regions, but who are these guys? They aren't soldiers. The picture on the right are more fugitive slaves.

I just liked this picture and the caption......You go! You Union soldiers you! No other men like you.


Is it me, or are their eyes just really weird? (you need to expand the picture to see)

Look at the tree with the roots sticking up. Bizarre. There is a marching band standing on it.


There are supposed to be 21,000 troops behind that hill.

There was a picture of a small army with lots of lumber. Now I know what it was used for. At least it looks like war, or defense.

Cool picture below. Not sure what it is. It mentions something about mines. but also about soldiers using the holes for camps.

I didn't get all the way through, but I think this is a start. I find it interesting and would like other opinions. I don't really have one yet. Never seeing any Confederates makes me think there were none. That is as far as I've gotten with my theory. Thanks!

Note: This OP was recovered from the Wayback Archive.
Note: Archived replies to this OP: American Civil War a Photographic History
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