USA: Who is this little girl whose father died in a Civil War battle?
It’s a long shot nearly a century and a half after the conflict ended, but the Museum of the Confederacy has released two photographs of little girls, both found by the bodies of soldiers killed in the American Civil War, in an attempt to identify them.
The photograph of one girl was found between the bodies of two soldiers – one Union, one Confederate – at Port Royal, Virginia, 150 years ago this June. The other was retrieved from a slain Union soldier’s haversack in 1865 on a Virginia farm field days before five years of fighting which killed 650,000 ended.
Though photography was in its infancy when the war broke out, its use was widespread. Many soldiers carried photographs of loved ones into battle and for the first time, photographic images of war were available – and the Museum of the Confederacy has its own vast collection of images.
But now museum officials are releasing the unidentified images of the two girls, along with six other enigmatic photographs, on the admittedly remote chance someone might recognise a family resemblance or make a connection to a battlefield where they were found.
“We don’t know who they are and the people who picked them up did not know who they were,” said Ann Drury Wellford, curator of 6,000 Civil War images at the Richmond museum that has the largest collection of artefacts of the Confederate states, civilian and military.
Even in its infancy, photography was booming during the American Civil War. Photographers were assigned to Northern divisions and travelling photographers were the early version of photo booths as they visited troops between battles and photographed them.
Bob Zeller, president of the Centre for Civil War Photography, said soldiers carrying photographs of wives, children and other loved ones off to battle was common. Finding a photo on the battlefield without a clear connection to a dead soldier was uncommon and highly evocative.
Unlike modern soldiers, few Civil War troops had the modern-day version of ID tags and few carried other identification.
Each photograph is in a hinged case with a leather or composite exterior.
“We’re very fortunate that we know where they came from and how they were found, and many people who donated them were hopeful a family member would see them and identify them,” Ms Wellford explained.
Private Thomas Timberlake of the 2nd Virginia Infantry found the portrait of the girl with the ringlets and hand-coloured pink cheeks on the battlefield of Port Republic between the bodies of the two dead soldiers.
The photo of the other girl, who had short hair parted down the middle, was found by Private Heartwell Kincaid Adams of the 3rd Virginia Cavalry in the haversack he found on a Union soldier’s body at the battle of High Bridge in Virginia, only days before the war ended.
“I think they’re utterly compelling, especially the little girls,” Ms Wellford said.
Museum officials said, even 150 years later, it remains important to return the photos to families who had a link to the Civil War. The two girls, they said, still evoke powerful emotions.
“You think about these little girls at home and their daddies never return and they don’t know what happened to them,” said Sam Craghead, a spokesman for the museum.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 18 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 10 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West