August 20, 2008: Barry Cauchon: Please note that this is an updated article from a previously published one dated July 24, 2008 under the title of “Lincoln Photos … Real, Fake or ‘Who Knows’!
Lincoln at Gettysburg – Images of President Lincoln may have been found in Alexander Gardner photos taken on November 19, 1863.
Two photos taken by Alexander Gardner on November 19, 1863 at the dedication ceremonies for Soldier’s Cemetery at Gettysburg were discovered to have images of what looks like Abraham Lincoln in the crowd.
In December, 2006, John Richter, the director for the Center for Civil War Photography was viewing images from a collection of over 5000 Civil War photos made available online to the public by the Library of Congress. Mr. Richter was focusing on a series of 3-D stereoscope images of the crowds at the Gettysburg Soldier’s Cemetery dedication ceremonies taken on the day that Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address.
“I noticed there were three negatives from the dedication that were taken close together,” he said. “That struck me as odd because of the difficulty and cost of taking pictures back then. I also noticed the camera was not pointed at the stand but more toward the right. I zoomed in, and that was when I saw this figure.”
In the distance, a tall bearded man wearing a stove pipe hat was spotted. The man is on horseback and is part of the procession leading to the stage.
One of the enhanced images shows Lincoln passing by a row of soldiers, and a second shows him saluting them while wearing white gloves. The third was not clear. In all three photos, he has his face partially turned away with his back to the camera.
Although there is not 100% proof that this is Lincoln, the series of photos was presented at the Lincoln Forum Conference at Gettysburg held in November, 2007. Harold Holzer, vice chairman of the forum and respected Lincoln author, historian and scholar, indicated that many experts, including himself, spoke highly of the photos and confirmed their belief that these are genuine pictures of Lincoln at Gettysburg taken a short time before his famous address.
Detractors argue that the person identified as Lincoln could actually be Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s friend and self appointed bodyguard. He also wore a beard (and mustache) and favored wearing stove pipe hats. Lamon accompied Lincoln to the Gettysburg ceremonies that day and is photographed wearing his stovetop hat.
Up to this point, the only authenticated photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg was found by Josephine Cobb at the National Archives in Washington DC in 1952.
So, is the figure that Mr. Richter found really Abraham Lincoln? Many want to believe that it is. What do you think?
If you go to the attached link from USA TODAY, they have done a wonderful job of posting the images. Use their ‘Pan and Zoom’ feature to examine the details of both photos. Kudo’s to the folks who put this together.
Library of Congress Images: The actual photographs, which belong to the public, can be seen at the Library of Congress Web site, lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/pphome.html. Enter “stereograph+civil war” in the search field.
Center for Civil War Photography: You can see the photos at the Center for Civil War Photography’s Web site, www.civilwarphotography.org.
If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:
(posted on November 10, 2008)
(posted on December 08, 2008)