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A Photographic Mystery.
March 30, 2009 1:26 PM   Subscribe

Whose Father Was He? The soldier’s body was found near the center of Gettysburg with no identification — no regimental numbers on his cap, no corps badge on his jacket, no letters, no diary. Nothing save for an ambrotype (an early type of photograph popular in the late 1850s and 1860s) of three small children clutched in his hand. Errol Morris presents the Civil War-era mystery of a fallen soldier and a found photograph. [via]
posted by sarabeth (21 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
That poor man.
posted by JHarris at 2:04 PM on March 30, 2009


I think I would've waited for all five installments to be published; that would have been a kick-ass FPP. Nevertheless, neat find!
posted by aheckler at 2:10 PM on March 30, 2009


Great story, and further installments can be added to the thread as they are published. Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 2:12 PM on March 30, 2009


Amazing.

Also:

.
posted by jock@law at 2:14 PM on March 30, 2009


I think I would've waited for all five installments to be published; that would have been a kick-ass FPP.

Good idea, in retrospect. But, at the same time: sometimes there's something dorkily exciting about following series likes these as they unfold, yes?
posted by sarabeth at 2:16 PM on March 30, 2009


(Spoilers? The man's name is revealed at the end of Morris' post.) This book is about the man; his story is also in This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. This article is a nice bio.

Wikipedia: ambrotypes.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:23 PM on March 30, 2009


And that is why you should always write your name on your underwear.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:17 PM on March 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think I would've waited for all five installments to be published

That could be months, though; Morris is someone who works to his own rhythms.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:30 PM on March 30, 2009


At the bottom of the article:

"This is the first of five installments of 'Whose Father Was He?' The remaining four parts will be published on consecutive days this week."
posted by aheckler at 5:46 PM on March 30, 2009


Yeargh, I'm not going to be able to read these as they develop since I'm going to be AWAY FROM THE INTERNERDS from Wednesday onwards. Curse you!

(Ok, that's not really your fault, but you did go and get me all interested.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:47 PM on March 30, 2009


And that is why you should always write your name on your underwear.

And on the back of your kids' photograph.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:07 PM on March 30, 2009


And that is why you should always write your name on your underwear.

At Cold Harbor, at the Union troops prepared for what they knew was a hopeless assault on the entrenched Confederate positions, many of the soldiers pinned their names to their uniforms for purposes of identification.
posted by stargell at 8:07 PM on March 30, 2009


Part two.

Pretty much every single post on Errol Morris' blog is great. I recommend subscribing to his feed.
posted by Kattullus at 8:40 PM on March 30, 2009


this is awesome. thank you.
posted by spinturtle at 10:24 AM on March 31, 2009


many of the soldiers pinned their names to their uniforms for purposes of identification.

Anecdotes like this never fail to give me the chills.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:42 AM on March 31, 2009


The last entry in one soldier's diary was, "June 3, 1864. Cold Harbor. I was killed."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:44 PM on March 31, 2009


Part 3.
posted by Kattullus at 8:51 AM on April 1, 2009


Part IV.
posted by Kattullus at 2:25 PM on April 2, 2009


Interesting sidenote: David Humiston Kelley is better known as David Kelley whose claim to fame is having used the theories of Yuri Knorozov to decipher Mayan script. Knorozov last featured on MetaFilter in this thread.
posted by Kattullus at 2:56 PM on April 2, 2009


Final part.
posted by Kattullus at 9:34 PM on April 2, 2009


Thanks for updating, Kattullus. I was just coming back to add installments!
posted by sarabeth at 9:50 PM on April 2, 2009


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