Timothy O’Sullivan

A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 4, 1863

This photograph reminds me of how critical it is to have photographers record images of war and civil conflicts. This photograph was featured in, Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War which exposed the death and destruction caused by the Civil War. Exposing the human toll of wars and human struggles by circulating photographs (and now videos) have led to public opinions changing. Allowing the public to see the human impact has led to social up risings from the civil war to the civil rights movement in the 1960s and now the Black Lives Matter movement.

Observing this picture made me wonder about the stories of the soldiers. Where did they come from? How did they feel about the war? These questions will never be answered. Even though the struggle for equal rights continues today, this photograph reminds me of how far we have come. It is shameful that ~750,000 people died either trying to defend or abolish the institution of slavery. So many people were lost in the civil war they had to reuse the boots of the fallen soldiers. If you look close enough you can see the soldiers in this photograph are only wearing socks.

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