Closeup detail of the rock, trousers, and a mysterious "shoe" ; October, 2004

Note: all the following images are from the Library of Congress.

Again with the rock

What I discern as a rock setting in the right and lower pant-leg of the sharpshooter is rather obvious in all shots I've seen; yet there is a certain soft-focus throughout the image. And, even though we see the perfectly-matched crater downhill, this image softness is reason enough in some minds to retain suspicion. Some yet say the rock does not exist ; and that the bulge is the simple pant-leg alone and nothing more.

Yet, basic reason dictates this rock is a rock. We might even go so far as to attempt to copy this weird rounded bulging effect seen in the lower pant-leg. It cannot be done. Try it yourself. Put on some loose trousers. Get down on the floor. Except at the knee, no bulge happened. Get up, walk around, then try it again and again. No bulge. Use your hands and left foot to help create the effect. That's cheating and you may eventually come somewhat close...but, short of shoving a balloon up you pants, you will fail. That's because it is un-natural for pants to bulge-out in this weird manner.

The Library of Congress recently added a 20 megabyte Tiff image to their online selections of the "Sharpshooter's Home" photograph. My thanks to Mr. Roger Williams for pointing this image-addition out to me ; also his help in acquiring some nice details from it. If you have a fast server, do go, find, and download this image for your own perusal at the LOC website. [ I found it by going to their website and doing a search for civil war photography ; then "Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter". I'd post a direct link but the site-address keeps changing.]

This image is a veritable feast for the visual artist. It is much clearer than the copy I had acquired seven years ago from the LOC. I recall being stunned seeing it for the first time.

The section involving the potato-shaped rock setting in the lower right pant-leg grabbed my particular attention. There, before mine eyes, was a pants-seam running in a rather even course down the sharpshooter's right leg. Of course, I'd seen hints of this seam before, but never anywhere near this sharp. The seam traversed down the near bottom of the right leg, then, to my astonishment, it passed behind an intervening shoe attached to the left leg, before emerging and heading upwards, passing along the mid-perimeter of the "potato rock". Of a sudden, I could understand why some ACW experts had been telling folks about a visible shoe existing in the "Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter" photo.

One thing visual artists appreciate about clear photographs is what we might discern when examining them. Artists love this activity. There is an old saying, that truth bears scrutiny, while falsity does not. Now, of a sudden, I had the honor and opportunity to carefully scrutinize a long dead photographer's creation.

It has been an interesting activity-- and quite rewarding ; I've found a few oddities which deserve attention.

Just below is a detail of the rock and trousers cropped from this large online 20 megabyte scan version of the original image recorded on site at the "Home" in July (6th?) of 1863 by Gardner, et. al., showing the dead Sharpshooter lying in his originally-found position:

Plainly seen in this image is the bulbous granite rock lying atop the lower right pant-leg area. It's that big ballooning mass settled nicely into that nest-like surround of lower pant-leg. Unfortunately, when viewing this image, it's a bit difficult -- to say the least-- trying to convey this same visual impression to the reader, as certain artistic additions have been generated at key points. This difficulty derives from a determined attempt on the part of some long-dead photographer /artist to confuse and re-direct the viewer. I'll go slowly here, so that all might follow along ....who knows but perhaps we can expose the charlatan through his clever deceit.

Old-time photographs are purely mechanical productions untouched by the hand of man ... NOT!

Before going further, let me preface with the admonition that photographers have always resorted to re-touching, editing, and otherwise altering their images so as to correct deficiencies, make the work more attractive, etc. This encourages sales and in some cases, like this one, hides blunders. Early photography was no exception. In fact, the glass plate negatives were often very large, typically beyond a 12-inch wide size, allowing some alterations to be performed rather easily and upon the glass plate, itself.

For instance, as a blatant but fitting example, the original "Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter" photograph showed hazy distant trees visible in the sky area. This original 'tree' version is the one seen as plate 41 in Gardner's 1866 "Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War". But it appears that, sometime afterwards, another version was produced and this one had much of the sky whitened out. This version still showed most of the trees ; yet, later (?) still, a completely tree-less version of the "Home" also appeared. I cannot say if all these re-workings were performed by Gardner's DC studio, or if it happened sometime after Brady obtained Gardner's plates. Currently, all versions of the "Home" photo being shown on the LOC website are the full white-out sky 'tree-less' versions. My point of noting these easily-seen alterations being so that we all recognize there were at least some alterations performed upon the once pristine original and now famous "Home of a rebel Sharpshooter" image. It now appears there were more. Allow me some short time to point out a few of these alterations to your fair-judgement.

Examination time

Back to the photo-detail under study: at the outset, notice how that object I affectionately call a "potato rock" has a differing texture and darker overall tone to the rest of the trousers it's setting upon and within. Judge it fairly. It's subtle, but noticeable, none-the-less. Again, know that some observers of the "Home" image maintain there is no such rock, their own eyes seeing only regular trousers and a seam line interrupted by the left "shoe"of the dead soldier.

The following image presents an even more close-up view of the LOC crop (above) and centering around the rock area where it butts up against the pants:

First, regarding the highly visible pants in-seam: notice how the smooth and consistent 'seam' of the right trouser-leg in the area right of the rock is nicely even and nearly straight. It might be posited this same seam line continues into the rock, giving the initial impression the rock is nothing more than an unusually odd bulbous section of the pant-leg. But do note the seam in the rock. It begins at the "shoe" delineation as a triangular pie-shaped section, is jagged, pitted -- and even has a crater as it goes towards the obscuring far left rock-edge. And it seems to completely run-out before actually reaching that obscuring rock. Thus, at the outset, we can discern the seam on the rock is not visually consistent with what we may more-easily presume as the pant-seam in that section to the right of the rock. Again, look carefully and compare. The difference is rather stark. Is it possible someone has added-in some black dots or lines to help our eyes see a 'seam' on the rock?

The shoe that isn't

Something else: it is remarkable just how clear the knitting appears on the sharpshooter's left sock. You can actually see the knitted weave ; and it's almost like seeing rows of young corn planted in a field. Odd thing is, there is a semi-circular dark line which has been added or heightened by the studio to rather indicate the demarcation of a "shoe" into which the sock abruptly disappears. However, if you ignore that dark division-line and simply look beyond it, you can still make out the continuation of some ' corn-rows' of the sock's light-gray knit. That's interesting ; do you see it? I do and that's how I know some long-ago retouch-man has fooled with this image in this area. Now, if there were an actual shoe here, then, instead of a continuance of the sock weave, we would easily see (in equally-sharp detail) the leather strap or band which encircles the shoe at that point. This leather band-- measuring about 1-1/2 inches width, can be seen in the downhill shots-- for instance, see this leather band in photo 3 below: I consider this enlightening as a visual happenstance.

Do you see the shiny band crossing over the shoe and heading down to the real arch/ heel? The artist forgot to put in this line to indicate that inch-and-a-half-wide strap. It would have been much more effective a concealment if he had...but he didn't.

Also, in the previous close-up above, look carefully at the trousers and see how clearly they appear. In fact, in similarity to the sock, an indication of woven wool is also visible. See the faint soft hints of diagonal lines cris-crossing everywhere? Note how this woven-appearance extends perfectly down into the "shoe" outline. This is a remarkable clue, for if this were an actual shoe, it would be clearly seen in this fine image as smooth polished leather. Fact is, it would possess a similar appearance to that shiny rifle stock in the near background. Go back to the intro photo closeup and compare the rifle stock to the supposed shoe. Your eyes, like mine, will detect no similarities in surface appearance.

And so we see nothing resembling shiny leather. Instead, we see only the soft weave of textile. This outlined "shoe" is not a shoe ; just the bottom of the pant-leg surrounding the rock like a bird's nest.

A side thought here...could the sharpshooter's actual left shoe be hidden by the overlying section of pant-leg? Maybe; and someone else might say this better explains the various trouser-folds and how the rock became trapped so nicely in this "nest" fashion ( an indentation which perfectly matches the "bird's nest" crater appearing downhill-- see especially photo 4). They might further posit this effect was helped along by the many downpours which occurred while the body lay awaiting photography. A flattened molded mask of the underlying shoe would be the expected result. But this visual artist would think not. You see, rigor has not yet left the lower extremities of this dead sharpshooter's body. Downhill, the legs are fairly judged to be locked in the very same positions discerned up hill.... and, as we can see in shots 3, 5, and 6, they are a good distance apart. Now, someone reading this might interject the possibility of less lingering rigor and the dragging-movement downhill would spread the legs. Me, I'd say the friction of the ground passing under the body would more likely bring the legs closer together. No, what I can see in the "Home" photo only leads me to thinking the left shoe of the dead soldier is hidden by the intervening left boulder and nothing else. You see, that continuation of the sock weave into the artistic "shoe" outline better indicates the real shoe is still just a bit further along.

Anyway, we do not see an actual left shoe in the enlargement ; just the surrounding pant-leg cloth with a bogus faint outline of a shoe touched in. Realize, on a large glass negative it would be possible to alter a section of pants by slight artistic additions. All the artist needs is a window and various solutions/paints to perform his wizardry. How so? Well, to add dark lines, the artist would abrade or even chemically-dissolve or etch away bits of the negative to allow more light to pass through; and thus deliver heightened darks to the positive. To make a lighter line, the artist puts in dots or solid lines of a translucent light-obscuring paint ; it's applied right to the glass negative and creates a white in the subsequent positive production. And, by the way, retouchings do not always have to be performed to the plate neg. In fact, the better work could be performed on an enlarged positive print made from the negative. This route then allows some really careful corrections to be made. Some objects might even be oil-painted by a fine artist. And, after creating the desired effect in oils, a copy camera could then easily create a whole new glass plate.

Yes, these are the retouch-artist's simple tools ; and, again, they can be quite effective towards deluding the viewer. For instance, looking at the close-up again, the studio appears to have applied 6 or 7 dots of whitish paint to an area just slightly above where the rock originally met with the trousers, engendering in the final print a series of curving dots between the rock and the trousers; and this performed in the attempt to indicate highlights upon the heel of the outlined "shoe". Understand, the highlight reflected off a real shoe-heel would be an even and solid line of subtly-changing grays plausibly extending to near-white at full reflective exposure ; but not a series of small white dots applied as these obviously are. [If you follow the shoe-outline left towards where it intersects with the left pant-leg, you may also note some other pure black dots inserted artistically to achieve emphasis here and there. Solid black or white dots are a dead-giveaway to retouching in the actual glass plate negative. Of course, periodic and random white or black dots are common to old photographs. But do not always believe a seemingly random black or white dot is innocent. A carefully-placed dot can do wonders for deception. ]

Anyway, back to the shoe, where the attempted effect ultimately fails. What is within the outlined "shoe" has the even bumpy appearance of woven wool-- not that of smooth leather.

And, considering textures and how they differ in this clearer enlarged image, go back again to that closeup and do fairly note the rock itself. See how it represents a different overall darker tone and more-solid texture from the woolen trousers. Remark how it's top edge cuts more sharply against the dark background of the wall area beyond. It is visually different to textile material ; the woolen pants showing a fluffier softness instead.

The doodle worm

But about that rock. Oddly missing in this shot is the delimiting edge betwixt rock and pants. What I mean is, when I see this image in 3-D using the stereo in my possession, the rock sticks boldly out from the pants-- as if a whale's bulbous head were extending out of water. In the 3-D image the top edge of the pants recede and the rock comes forward. Yet, here, in this much larger detailed closeup, the pants and rock are seen to merge softly on the very same plane. But the difference in texture prevails against the artistry. You can see it, just look carefully. But maybe you can't tell? Well, some can and some can't. My eyes aren't what they used to be, but, as an artist, I know what to look for in another's artwork. Bear with me here. As much as I knew the rock and pants were separate and different, I'll agree the effect seen in this large LOC scan gave me a good run. There were just no blatant retouch dots to be found and vital to uncovering the artistic trickery. And so I went looking for other oddities....and I found an obvious doodle line.

What's a doodle line? It's a simple methodology used by sketch artists for delineating and shading their drawings. For instance, if a spot on your drawing needs some mid-tone darkening, just use your pencil to quickly scribble in some shade. Often, these squiggly lines resemble worms in their serpentine configuration.

For example, the item 'A' in the following drawing shows a common artist's shading technique. Called hatching, the shading arrives by the eye mingling the closely-spaced black pencil lines with the white of the paper between those lines. Thus, when the hatching is viewed from a distance, the lines and white meld together to produce a shade of grey.

Item 'B' is a slightly different manner of applying shade but the pencil never leaves the paper.

Item 'C' is a classic doodle or squiggle; and it also provides shading. The next time you have opportunity to examine an artist's drawing, do notice the manner in which that fellow depicts his shadows.

Now to take a closer look at that hi-resolution LOC image detail; the doodle 'worm' retouch is discernible thanks to their amazingly clear scanning :

I hope you can make out the clever little bugger. It's there at the junction betwixt rock-edge and pants....just left of that ugly black scab. It's that slightly darker stitching line running back-and-forth, again and again, as it travels up-and-down between what should be the sharp right edge of the rock. It sort of resembles somebody using a pencil to write-in words ....and, yes, I believe a common civil war era pencil much used by the sketch-artists and painters of the day... was the very tool utilized.

If you are having troubles making it out, see item 'D' in my drawing.

There's another doodle squiggle extending off to the right at the top of the verticle doodle. I see the intent here was not only to blur the rock-edge, but then make it appear as a fold in the pant-leg (again, see item 'D' in the drawing).

Study the area well and you might find more squiggles. For instance, there's another one in the curving shadow of the fold a bit further right (see item 'E' in the drawing).

Curious! And perhaps you can judge that the same pencil used to "write" in the worms was also used to insert some of those imitation shoe-outlines-- see 'D' and 'E' in the drawing. Do look again and see them for what they are. These are sketched-in additions to this photograph and they had to be inserted by the hand of one seeking to retouch.

And so there has been an attempt at covering one's tracks, here, in this one particular area of the famous photo. I believe it was vitally necessary in some one's mind to hide that rock. Why else would they seek to make it into a pant-leg? This doodling is, like the shoe, more studio-effects. A concerted artistic attempt has been made to hide the rock by making sections lighter ; then subsequently applying slight shading and false detail-- yet, to the careful eye, the trick fails due to underlying and overall differences in visual texture between what is granite rock and what is woven cloth .

Whoever did this retouching has greatly altered this area of the famous photo. I now believe this rock bears little resemblance to what it once was. In effect, literally and figuratively, the worms have eaten well.

There was something about that rock that made the artist uncomfortable....uncomfortable enough to effect the change.

How to do it

But how does an artist perform such photographic trickery? There is only one way this artist can come up with ; and that is, this trickery has to be done with an enlarged print. I cannot conceive of it being performed upon the original glass plate negative. Still, admittedly, I wasn't there to look over his shoulder.

But me, I'd have made a large print ; maybe one of those "imperial-sized" prints (17 x 22 inches) Gardner's studio was known for. Then, ignoring the glass negative completely and working on the print, I'd have brushed on a thin translucent grey-- either an oil-based paint, or, for fast drying, shellac-based-- here and there to hide every little undesirable thing, especially that danged rock. This translucent coating would soften the original sharp detail. Thicker dots or blots of paint would be necessary in some strategic spots (like those 6 or 7 little white dots at the fake heel).

After drying, alternate details and shading would be simply doodled in by use of the pencil. The pencil provides a near perfect shade of gray for black and white photo-retouching.

After all the artistry is performed to my satisfaction, I'd re-shoot and create a new plate negative from the enlarged and altered copy. Presto! Good-bye rock ...well ...not really, for the discerning eye will still perceive it as a hoax ; that bulged-out bottom section of pant-leg is still quite un-natural in visual appearance. No matter; for most viewers would never notice the oddity.

How difficult would it be to re-shoot the scene from a doctored copy? Shooting a copy negative from an enlarged photograph (such as one of those17x22 Gardner studio-types) would be easy enough and it would require no specialized equipment. For instance, one could simply hang the enlarged and doctored photo on a wall outdoors and take the shot using the very same camera utilized to make the on-site original. If reflections are noticeable, just hang a dark cloth curtain behind you. Handily, and unlike with people subjects, the photo will remain rock-still, making it ideal for the slow exposure needed for the less sensitive plates of that long-ago time period.

Yes, it would be easy. But, in fact, there is one downside to taking a photo of another photo during that era...and for many years afterwards; and that is, black and white contrast will suffer. The resulting new copy photos will necessarily be greyer in overall tones; and this will be especially noticeable in the sky-areas, which, in a balanced black-to-white print, will now appear grey instead of white.

Explaining further: you see, outdoors, when any normal photo is ‘taken', the sky will be brightly illuminated. It is so very bright as to cause our eyes to squint. However, comparing that brightness to the 'white' of a printed photograph, that original brightness of reality will only translate into the white of the paper or ground the photo is printed on. When viewing this printed photograph, our eyes will not squint, because what we see in the photo is simply not nearly as bright as what our eyes encountered when being outside and on the actual scene. [And, BTW, a cloudy sky can often be much brighter than a clear blue sky.]

Thus, whenever we create a new negative (and photograph) from another photograph, white will noticeably lower in tone and darks will slightly rise. All will trend more towards greys and contrast suffers. Deep blacks may be re-gained by slightly over-exposing the print. But this remedy must also darken the light greys of the sky as well. And so another remedy is called upon; and that remedy is to take the resulting glass plate negative and literally cover the sky-area with a light-blocking paint. [It would be many more years before photographers gained access to various filters, special emulsions, and print stocks capable of creating multi-contrast results from poorly-contrasted negatives.]

Perhaps some reading this might now see how and why there are at least three different versions of the "Home" photo– these photos ranging from ‘tree'd' to ‘tree-less'. It would seem that each version represents a different generation copy of the original wet-plate collodion glass plate negative. I'm guessing, of course, but the glass plate negative here under study may well be a third-generation copy.

And there is an additional clue supporting the LOC 'treeless' version to be a copy plate negative-- not the original made at the actual "Home" site on a certain day in 1863. Thanks to the LOC's full-perimeter scan showing the entire glass plate negative -- too large a file for my slow server, but downloaded and passed along by my helpful brother William-- we are able to see the edges surrounding the glass plate negative itself. Easily noticed is a curving crack-- one that apparently existed in a previous parent glass plate negative-- in the lower right-side corner. This crack is seen to quit at the image/mask-overlay junction and does not extend fully to the plate's right edge. By comparison, another crack in the upper right corner does extend fully to the actual edge of the plate negative. And so it would seem one crack is actually in the plate negative; and the other is merely an image of a crack.

Who done it?

So.... who performed the artistry seen still detectable within the LOC plate negative? My bet is ...Gardner and crew. I have no doubts the photographers noticed the rock while taking their initial shots of the dead sharpshooter. Sure, they knew the rock was setting on the body uphill. They kept it because it was a rather interesting --certainly unique-- addition to the usual battlefield effects. Me, I would have kept it, too.

But when they were at work with the first two shots, there was no inkling in their minds they would subsequently move the body out and down ; then decide to use it for some more death scenes. While working downhill, their only concern was to hide the face. I cannot know who later caught the blunder or when, but, eventually, somebody discovered the boo-boo "bird's nest" in all the shots taken downhill. The ramifications that could follow would be unpleasant and cause great harm to fine reputations.

Like I said, we cannot know when the 'remedy' was performed. The discovery and coverup may have come within days of Gardner's returning to Washington. But me, I'm thinking the corrective measures came a bit later, and that several truly original pristine copies of the "Home" image may yet still exist to this day (positive thinking here ...Gardner lived in DC ....the LOC is in DC.... Gardner may have copyrighted his image ....that would mean a copy had to be retained by the copyright office .... which today is in the same building as the LOC. Hmmm ....maybe the LOC actually has a good one?).

It's too bad about the doodle worms. But, thankfully, due to the clarity of the online LOC scan, these worms make noise.

When is a seam not a seam?

Short answer: when it begins in the wrong place, ends in the wrong place, quites outright, and extends into another object not part of the pants.

For those out there who always believed in the rock, or those who do now believe in the rock, I will share something. While I was looking for doodle-worms, I found plenty more. There are many subtle ones on the rock. But also many in a line extending left of the rock's corner junction and in a path heading over towards the crotch of the dead shooter.

It turns out, that ever-so-perfect seam presenting itself to our eyes in the LOC's clear 20 meg TIFF scan image is not a seam, but a sham. It's well-below where a real seam should traverse the pants-leg ; this fake seam has been put in by the retouch-artist to align with the doctored "seam" on the rock. The real seam is gone but its true path can be discerned by viewing the four shots made downhill.

A moment for thoughtful consideration here. Realize, pant-seams undulate according to the folds and wrinkles of the cloth they bind. But that seam seen in this LOC image is just too obvious, and too straight and uniform. It generated some curiosity and I spent a good while examining this image, the stereo, and the four additional later shots made downhill.

Another weird thing about the seam showing in the LOC scan is how very low it traverses as it extends down the pant-leg. Fact is, if we use some simple eye measuring to help us deduct how thick the right leg is, that seam is traveling down and along near the very bottom ; and just barely above the ground. This is a bit odd. My senses tell me it should be traversing closer to the middle of the leg. Very curiously, to the right, we see it disappear as it heads towards the body. In reality, the seam should be heading for the crotch-- as all pant seams are supposed to do. Frankly, this odd seam just seems to be headed not to the crotch but, well, some part of the anatomy much lower.

Something else : the sharpshooter's right leg twists as it extends towards the foot. That means the seam should be twisting a bit, too, and heading slightly upwards as it heads towards the rock. But it doesn't appear to be doing that in the clear LOC scan. Instead, it remains low and butts up against a contrived "shoe" outline. [ You don't understand the twist? All four downhill shots of the body show the right leg twisted way far to it's right-- and this due to the rock which weighed it down in that twisted manner. Realize, when a leg is twisted, of course the seam will tend to follow in that direction. ]

Again, I see a seam that is too strong, too uniform, too low, and it's not heading generally towards either the rock's junction with the pant-leg, nor the sharpshooter's crotch.

I'll now fortify my points with a few images made downhill. And realize, these downhill seams should be real and not fooled with. I'm thinking this because common sense tells me that if an artist is given the task to perform fakery in either one shot uphill, or having to perform it on four shots downhill, that artist will opt for the lesser work-load.]

Let's take a look at the sharpshooter's real seam in the downhill shots. As example, notice where the pant seam runs from crotch to "birds nest" in the downhill photo 4 [BTW, don't be misdirected by the overexposed shin-sections. You see, the right pant-leg has obviously suffered a tugging force as the body was dragged from the "Home". When the artists began to pull the body out from it's "Home", the rock that sat-upon and anchored that pant-leg amply-provided the tugging force which partially caused these transverse folds so easily seen downhill ; and add to this a bit of good friction produced by the ground passing beneath on the trip downhill.] You should be able to make out the seam line heading straight towards that mostly rounded impression left by the rock uphill (the "Bird's nest"). The impression is not perfectly rounded because the seam junction with the rock uphill quite naturally allowed production of an abrupt angle :

We must acknowledge the initial directional force of the tugging-rock plus the encountered friction of the passing ground. Thus, the right pant-leg will indeed extend somewhat as the body is dragged downhill. But it will not twist in the least! Note how the seam originates at the crotch, moves up as it heads towards the knee ; then zeros right in on the center of the "bird's nest" crater. In case you were fooled by the transverse overexposed fold, as seen above, here's another view taken from photo 6 looking straight down the right leg:

The seam is that thin white trail running central down the right pant-leg. We see the rise at the knee, then the slight but noticeable left turn as the seam heads dead-center towards the "bird's nest" entryway. BTW, the flattened section of pant-leg seen to the right of the seam just before the foot is that section that's been made into a bogus left shoe in the "Home" photo. Within this nest is where the rock once lay. Again, it was shrugged off as the body was dragged from the uphill wall and boulders "Home". But it's imprint remains and we can now see the real seam passed centrally and directly beneath the rock.

This downhill seam follows all the rules. Again, I re-iterate, the fake seam in the LOC detail is occurring too low and almost at the ground. Also, the faked seam does not visually appear to align towards the dead soldier's crotch. Nor does it intersect with the visible rock. Instead, it intersects lower down and with a faked shoe-heel.

Don't be fooled. These shots are all taken of the same body....right? [I understand some experts are now thinking otherwise. Please trust a visual artist, this is the very same body. I've also heard it stated there are leather 'leggings' visible in the "Home" photo. No, there are no leather leggings showing in the uphill photographs ; though I do visually understand why there might be a hinted notion of such on the squashed left pant-leg in some blurry productions. Of course, we might also ponder the possibility there is yet another "Home" photo with leggings retouched in...?]

With these downhill views in mind for comparison, I will now digitally create the original seam line where it should have most-likely existed in the "Home" image. It's way too dark, but I want it to be obvious so you can easily see the path once-taken. Know that this re-created seam line follows all the rules -- and is consistent with all the visual clues :


That's where the seam line should be. That other seam showing so clearly in the LOC scan is an artistic creation; it's been contrived and follows a too-low path, actually ending at the ground where it hits a leather loop, visible farthest right in the first close-up detail (beginning of this update). It's yet another cleverness on the part of somebody wanting to hide a rock.

Again, as the real seam progressed down the sharpshooters turning leg, it performed naturally. Like most pant seams, it would rise up as it headed towards the knee of the shooter. It performed some slight undulation at each natural pants fold ; and finally it dived under the exact corner where the rock's bottom right edge meets the nest. Fact is, it was the seam itself which created the angular corner-like front impression in the rock's "nest".

How was the false seam created? It was performed on the very same enlarged print. The highlight was drawn in using either a white grease pencil, or a tiny brush and thin translucent white. The darkened line is more pencil-work ; though I think it's also been given a enforcement of ink here and there.

BTW, artists make mistakes when 'correcting' photos, and such correction can be revealed often. Case in point, looking at the far right of the pants-seam in the large LOC scan, we observe a clever seam-generating touch-up seeming to extend into a leather buttoning loop sewn into a section of equipment. Take a look :

The false in-seam suspiciously quits here--Depending on your monitor-setting, you will note both a black and a gray have been added to the near bottom of the pant-leg in an effort to create a viable seam line. There was never a seam in this area-- the real seam was higher up. You can tell she's a fake because the artist missed a bit with the gray-- it's overlapping atop that visible leather button-loop; it's literally out-of-bounds. Also notice that this faked seam completely runs out at the loop instead of performing a slight upwards wrap-around the obvious pant-fold and coming into at least some slight view at right. Completely off it's mark, this false seam is heading straight towards the shooter's tail-bone instead of heading up towards his crotch. [BTW, Mr. Thomas Gressman, Chaplain 56th PVI, Co. B, has ID'd this loop to be the retaining strap attached to the outermost top flap of the ammunition pouch.]

Yes, some studio 'corrections' have been added here and there within this marvelous "Home" image. Again, my hunch is they were created upon a large print ; then subsequently re-photographed. However they were created, the subterfuge is visually-exposed in this high-rez scan on the LOC website.

But these clever retouchings do not hide what took place on a certain day so long ago. The 'potato-shaped' rock in this photo aligns with and maintains a perfect progression to judge events in recreating a happening upon the battlefield. Specifically, the crater downhill matches the rock and provides the perfect progression. If you still refuse to discern the retouchings ; and consider this photo original and pristine, then the question must be asked, where, in this so-clear "Home" image, are the remains of the crater seen in the lower right pant-leg downhill? Again, the first image above shows the proper area ; if pristine, there ought to be some indication of the crater. Yet, there are none.

Altered perceptions

Point of consideration here: when I first obtained my soft-focus copies from the LOC, the image quality was poor enough that I'd have doubted Gardner bothering to hide anything visible in his crew's handiwork. I just assumed the rock was so vague in the "Home" plate image, that nobody ever noticed the object for 135 years. You can pick it out nicely in the 3-D stereo, but it seems there has been little notice given the stereo-shot of this now-so-famous image.

My opinion has changed. Now, after viewing the recent addition to the LOC website, I am amazed at the detail available in this "Home" photo. Aside from the retouchings, there is a wealth of visual info here. And I'll now assume the detail in the downhill shots may have been just as good. And that, in effect, presents a problem for those who have committed the act of re-staging a body in another place /position. Gardner and crew must have been worried when the darned thing printed out so nicely. Due to such visual clarity, some careful-eyed viewer will soon and too-easily see the pitted rock atop the leg uphill and its resulting crater showing downhill. This is not a risk worth taking.

What to do? Well, the plate made uphill is surely the "Pulitzer-prize-winner". You certainly cannot destroy that one. Perhaps there were thoughts about destroying the truly staged and less saleable work made downhill? Those with ethics would approve. But apparently Gardner and crew did not care about ethics. And so the most obvious remedy was to perform some "cosmetic surgery" on the "Home" shot and be done with it.

Yes, my thinking is Gardner's studio eventually performed the artistic surgery on the pant's and rock area; and it was a decent job capable of fooling the great majority. In fact, the alteration worked successfully for well over a hundred years.

Historians perform a valuable service in their uncovering of historical writings. If the written word is dependable and true, than enlightenment can follow. Visual art, such as photographs or paintings, is also a form of historical 'writing'. Of course, like all writings, visual art can be altered to supress veracity.

Someone long-gone performed a visual lie and the effect has extended down to our time; the hear and now. And in such realm, for those of you who still cannot see the photo-subterfuge, even with a careful analysis of this amazingly clear photograph, take a book photo of the "Home" and flip it so the body appears standing. The rounded bulbous rock should stick out like the proverbial 'sore thumb'.

If you still cannot see it, all I can say is, bless you. As a painter, I can tell you, whoever performed the artistry would be beaming to know it.

A hopeful thought

But, again, perhaps it's possible some earlier untouched positives of the "Home" image may yet survive to perfectly illustrate the original scene as it appeared during photography. Curiously, I do recall having viewed some images in certain books down through the years which seem to show things in their proper manner. For one instance at ready-hand, there is a fine but small shot in Mr.William Frassanito's excellent book, "Early Photography at Gettysburg", page 269, plate 91a, showing what just might be an unaltered early 'tree' version. I've always wondered why the more-easily-seen rock in this particular image exhibited a better rock-like texture than the 8 x 10-inch copy I'd obtained at the LOC. The rock in my "tree-less" image, which is obviously the offspring of the 20 MEG scan subject of this report, is seemingly more rounded and softened than the plate found in that particular book. Just now, looking at it again, I note that image is credited as also belonging to the LOC.

But I cannot say with any certainty that a pristine and untouched version of the "Home" yet remains. There may be ; and in that realm of hopeful thinking, I respectfully ask the LOC (or another willing archive) if any truly original and un-tampered-with prints of this historic photograph are contained in their collection ; and, if so, might they now also offer a tight scan of that version online?

Update concerning the recent attribution of the NTR at the GNMP

In July, I received a clipping of the Gettysburg newspaper with the front-page story about finding the battlefield owner of the Rosensteel bench rifle ; I thank my youngest sister, Mrs. Anne Henderson, of Gettysburg, for taking time to send this clipping my way.

Reading it over, I understand Henry Clay Powell is now firmly verified by the National and Texas State Archives as being an actual combatant during the 2nd day's fight, and he was in the general Houcke's Ridge area that day. His rank says he was an infantryman. Unfortunately, there is no actual record of his being a sharpshooter. According to the newspaper article, the GNMP experts think Powell may have been a sharpshooter because he was wounded in the head that 2nd day. The story also noted Powell was the only HCP found among all the Southern regiments doing duty on the 2nd day in the area.

My own thoughts? Well, back in '97, I recall my very helpful friend, astute researcher, and ACW scholar, Kurt Graham, of Georgia, readily found three potential Confederate HCP's fighting that 2nd day in the lower Houcke's Ridge area. Two were from Texas regiments (2nd and 5th) and one was from an Arkansas. Of course, we supposed an outside chance one of these men might have used the rifle on the second day ; but our 'aim' was to find an actual sharpshooter specialist (likely not an infantryman) for the third day, as some fair visual evidence maintains strong likelihood an NTR was in use at the wall and boulders, and by the lone DDSS. We had to nix all three HCP's as candidates for the rifle's use in that case, because all three lived after the battle, and the only SS leaving a damaged but still quite repair-able NTR (and so potentially quite valuable to the Confederates) in the Den on the third would, odds are, be a dead one.

Of course, we strongly suspect the rifle (and the other valuables found in the "Home") had to have been lost from service on the third day, and not the second. Why think this way? Here's the thing: the latest 'NTR lost on Thursday'scenario is not in sync with known historical battle-events of the second day/night, nor the needs for basic set-up and operation of a big and heavy NTR. Telescope-equipped NTR's loaded slow and had to be fired from a rest or bench. It's not a good idea to send one of these "bench rifles" out to the front lines during a running/advancing battle. The thing weighs down the shooter to an extreme. It's troublesome to carry and takes a good while to load correctly. In a word, NTR's are cumbersome. It would be useless for short-range work. So, of course, there is no need for an NTR 'out front' in the thick of battle. And so you take full advantage of the weapon's long-range capability and set up in the rear of a running battle, not the heat. If the shooter is wounded, he will be easily saved and so will his valuable rifle. As to the battlefield history, we must bear in mind, the needy Confederates owned the whole area the night of the 2nd day's battle. They removed their wounded and buried their dead. All the Southern Officer's Reports made after the battle say this, and the photography taken day's later confirm the OR's by the lack of Confederate dead in the Houcke's Ridge area (only one other than the DDSS was recorded). While in possession of this area and safe from LRT-fire, Thursday evening and night, the Confederates scoured the same area for anything of use; they even grabbed Captain Smith's cannon from atop the Ridge. They would have found any rifle dropped in position well-back from the high water mark ; and they likely sneaked out under cover of dark and grabbed a few from that.

Anyway, speaking in the realm of faint possibilities, infantryman Clay may have owned the rifle. I don't think so because we found nothing to support such ; but it would seem Mr. Graham's and this visual artist's standards for evidence are perhaps too strict. Prime example, taking the Parks news story at word, neither Kurt nor I would speculate a soldier being a sharpshooter because he was wounded in the head. Again, we don't think Powell nor the other two HCP's owned that damaged NTR But we admit not finding evidence against...or, excepting the HCP-initials, for..."

Then of course, there's another angle: regardless if Powell, wounded and out-of-action on the second day, owned it or not, the same NTR could have been used on the third day of battle ; and by the very hand of the dead soul shown at the famous wall and boulders location. I had mentioned this uncomfortable thought back in '98 in the DDSS Report online.

The whole notion of seeking an "HCP, CSA, 1862" developed slowly through accumulating visual evidence ; and as a method of possibly ID-ing the dead shooter in the historic "Home" photo. However, thanks to the rather perfect scholarly research performed over time by Mr. Graham, this artist can now say with good certainty that the dead sharpshooter is most likely William Adair, of Georgia (see 2002 updates). Never one to jump to conclusions, Kurt took his valuable time ; the searching efforts literally took years. Like the careful researcher he is, Mr. Graham physically visited and communicted with numerous State Archives and performed mind-numbing searches through old letters and other genealogical evidence --his exhaustive efforts ultimately leading to one specific Confederate soldier, KIA on the 4th July, 1863.

I could only follow along through a multitude of emails as Kurt performed wonders at his task. Again, I will say, it was a golden day for me when I had the happy fortune of meeting up with Mr. Graham.

This addition added October, 2004

All copyrights belong to: James C. Groves, Frostburg, Md.

Update 2006: Two Stereos -- The Rock in 3-D.

The following pages present dual images cropped from what I consider the two most important stereos taken of the DDSS; one is the famous "Home" shot; the other is the shot I refer to as number 4 of the body, the second photo made downhill. The importance of these shots towards establishing the truth regarding where the soldier was likely found and where he was likely 'lost' is undeniable. Though not as sharp or clear as large format plate images, nevertheless, images showing the third dimension help us see objects in a way that clarity cannot. Simply put, 3-D images establish depth-- and depth creates true visual form.

Obtaining 3-D effects by use of a stereopticon viewer is rather easy. A bigger chore is to develop a way to have two stereo images meld together to create the effect on your monitor. It can be done. Go to the following link and read the short directions to see if you can get the famous shot to 'pop' into 3-D.

Click here to go to the "Home" stereo detail.