Saturday, November 28, 2015

Antietam Then & Now: View of Union battery from Pry farm

In his ground-breaking 1978 book, Antietam: The Photographic Legacy of America's Bloodiest Day, William Frassanito explained why this wartime image by Alexander Gardner does not show actual fighting, as many have believed. Taken from near the Philip Pry house on or after Sept. 18, 1862, it shows inactive Union reserves behind the lines on the eastern side of Antietam Creek.

"The smoke in the right distance, previously thought to indicate rifle fire, turned out to be smoke from campfires; upon closer inspection, the artillery battery in the left distance stands inactive, its guns still attached to their limber chests," Frassanito wrote. "The man in the foreground, probably posed, is gazing through his binoculars toward the front-line positions near Bloody Lane, a mile distance and on the opposite side of Antietam Creek."

During an Antietam visit in September 2015, I shot the "now" image from a spot near where Gardner took his photograph. I used the fabulous, free and easy-to-use Juxtapose to create the slider. What was a largely open ground in 1862 is now blanketed with trees.

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