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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Memento Mori: 1865

Memento Mori: 1865

1865. "Cold Harbor, Virginia. Unburied dead on the battlefield of Gaines' Mill." Photographs from the main Eastern theater of war, the Peninsular Campaign, May-August 1862. Wet plate glass negative by John Reekie. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

In His Own Hand

A friend of mine recently gave me a gift that links me to this picture. It is a handwritten letter by General John Bell Hood in response to a war researcher's inquiry as to how many troops General Hood had in place at Gaines Mill. The general makes an estimation, but provides the name of someone else who could give a more accurate number.

I have seen this picture in the past, but it took on new meaning to me when I realized it is from the battle that General Hood speaks of in the letter I have.

Missing teeth

In Brent Nosworthy's "The Bloody Crucible of Courage" there's a quote from a Rebel soldier who had a former dentist in his regiment. The dentist would find corpses like these (often buried in shallow graves that later washed open) and would extract teeth from the skulls in order to get their gold fillings. Grizzly indeed.

[Or, if we're not talking about bear attacks, grisly. - Dave]

Lying where they fell

There are many poignant images like this from WWI as well. They're all just as disturbing.

Grant at Cold Harbor

At Cold Harbor the Confederates were well dug in. Those were men who knew how to take a position where you could do the most killing from. The whole army was laid up there, waiting and hoping and praying that something would come at them. And Grant threw three corps at them, and in seven minutes they shot about seven thousand men. It was a bloody mess. It's the only thing Grant ever admitted that he'd done wrong. He said after the war, "If I had it to do over again, I don't believe I'd make that charge at Cold Harbor."

-- Shelby Foote

Sad but fascinating

How sad but fascinating. The great coat retains the shape of the body that was in there; the fingers or possibly gloves of the body in front--at least they had others with them and were not alone.

Grisly Bear

Cute, Dave.


That's about all you can say about it, really. That and I wonder if the guy in the foreground was missing that front tooth before all his skin disappeared.

[Maybe the bear got it. - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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