Confederate Death at Chancellorsville: Photo

by DRM

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The setting is so casual; it’s as if the extras were told to take a break, and some lay back to nap before the filming started back up again. The composition is elegant and classic. The effect mutes the metaphysical truth of the photo: This picture chronicles death.

The fine line of the perspective draws our eye: the stone wall, sturdy and geometric, vanishing at the horizon point into the shallow trench, which is balanced in its line by the darkening shade of the ground to the left. Stark trees; long, slender muskets; random detritus.  These have a compelling symetry.

Those are dead men laying there, Their still shapes subdued. This is a great photograph, but does it have a soul?

Each of those men was brought to a savage end. They become the elements of a still life in their decomposition.

A note: The Confederate troops, outnumbered by 2 to 1, lost 13,000 men at Chancellorsville.

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