Using Civil War Photos Part 2

by fifer1863 on August 22, 2009

Okay, so back in December I asked you to take a look at the following photograph so we could explore all of its hidden treasures. This photograph shows the same building from my December 8th post that showed wounded soldiers from the battles in the “Wilderness” at Fredericksburg, Virginia, May 1864. This Gardner photograph of the US Sanitary Commission cooking tent is taken from a slightly different angle and a bit further away from the building. You can obtain a copy of the high resolution TIFF version of the image from the Library of Congress website.

So, let’s open up the photo in your favorite program (I use GIMP) and start taking a look around. On the surface we can several people standing and sitting around the yard. There appear to be a few wounded soldiers near the building, some gentlemen in front of the tent and some ladies sitting under the tree to the left of the barrels. There also appears to be a bed or cot in the middle of the yard.

Now, let’s grab our magnifying glass and see what else we can find. By increasing the magnification you can see at least people within this scene. Can you find them? There are two wounded soldiers (both with left arm wounds) on the left side of the image. There are 14 people situated near the center of the image. But where are the others? Zoom in on the area between the building and the back of the tent. You can see two and possibly three (there may be two in the carriage) people here. Finally, on the far right of the image, you can see the shadowy image of someone standing behind the barrels. Continue to zoom in on the individuals and look at their expressions and clothing.

What else can you find? See if you can locate some of the following items: the coffee pot, an umbrella, the US Sanitary Commission sign on the tent, a wash basin (look on the left side of the image), the stretcher that was leaning against the building in the previous image and the gentlemen drinking coffee.

Until next time, happy hunting.


Using Photos Part 1

by fifer1863 on August 8, 2009

So I thought that I would start a series on how to use photographs from the Civil War era in order to increase understanding. Looking at photographs can tell us a great deal about many different aspects of the war.

Today we will discuss the following photograph from the Library of Congress website:

This photo shows wounded soldiers from the battles in the “Wilderness” at Fredericksburg, Virginia, May 1864.

There are seven soldiers and one nurse pictured outside this makeshift hospital. For simplicity sake, let’s number them one to seven from left to right. So, number three is standing in the doorway.

What else can we notice? It looks like five out of the seven soldiers have some type of leg or foot wound that requires the use of crutches. Speaking of crutches…these ones look like one size fits all. Straight wooden poles with wooden parts for under the arms. The soldier six has his right arm in a heavy bandage.

What else can we notice? Hmm…. Well, soldiers one, two and three are all first sergeants based on the strips on their sack coats. Something that appears to be a stretcher is leaning up against the building on the right hand side. The solider one has a very interesting looking blanket under his wounded leg. The soldiers two and five both appear to be smoking a pipe and you can clearly see a chain across the front of soldier two’s vest. This was probably connected to his pocket watch. Look very close and can see soldier two’s hat on the ground in front of him.

As for the nurse, she is sitting watch over the wounded in her nice gown and matching bonnet. You can also see that she is holding a canteen in her lap.

Here is another picture taken from a slightly different angle looking at the back of the building.


The caption indicates that this is the cook house for the U.S. Sanitary Commission. What can you see in this photograph? Let me know what you find and we will discuss it in Part 2.

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Civil War Casualties

by fifer1863 on December 18, 2008

In order to better understand the impact that the Civil War had on the United States, it is important for students to review data of how many soldiers were killed, died from disease, died as a prisoner of war, and died in accidents. Information such as this was collected during it is currently available online. The data can be obtained from Dyer’s Compendium (Union) Summary of Losses by State as listed on the website at http://www.civil-war.net/ Once students have obtained the required data, they will then be able to manipulate the data in order to determine totals and averages for states and/or categories.

The following could be some objectives for this lesson.

  1. Students will analyze data from Dyer’s Compendium (Union) Summary of Losses by State.
  2. Students will manipulate a spreadsheet in order to better understand the data provided.
  3. Students will focus on the following issues: participation in the war by state, casualties of the war by state, averages for the various statistics.

So, the teacher could take the data from the website and replicate this table into spreadsheet. Then the students would take the spreadsheet provided by the teacher perform the following:

  1. Enter formulas into the Total Deaths column to total the number of casualties for each state.
  2. Enter formulas into the Totals section at the bottom of the spreadsheet to calculate the totals for each category.
  3. Enter formulas into the Totals section at the bottom of the spreadsheet to calculate the averages for each category.
  4. Review the data and answer questions about the data such as which state had the highest number of Total Deaths.
  5. Additional questions for students to answer:
  • What is the total number of people who died of disease during the Civil War?
  • What was the cause of the most losses in Illinois during the War of the Rebellion?
  • How many more died as prisoners of war in Pennsylvania than in Massachusetts?

The following table shows the losses that are specific to Pennsylvania