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tv   Civil War Resources - Clothing and Ammunition  CSPAN  June 6, 2022 6:26am-8:01am EDT

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solution right? you get the best you can at the time and then go back and try to make it better later, but do what you can when you can better to get something than to get nothing right? well. kirsten thank you so much for being with us. thank you so much for having me. i'm director of the virginia center for civil war studies. so our first speaker tonight and i'll just introduce each speaker in turn right before they speak. so our first speaker is dr. sarah jones wixel and she and her phd from the university of chicago. she's now the director of research and publications at the american historical association in washington dc. she's also an expert in the
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material culture of the civil war and most especially clothing and that's the subject of a book she's working on right now clothing in the american civil war era one. i'm very much looking forward to reading when it comes out. and we're gonna get a taste for scholarship and this subject tonight with her lecture and title clothing people for war over to you. thank you. well, thank you so much paul for the invitation to participate and for that wonderful introduction so glad to be able to participate in the weekend. so, let me share my screen real. quick all right. so when i began my current book project, i really wanted to understand. the human side of this war the intimacy with which it was both
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experienced and fought at a very material level at the level of material culture. how do people experience and negotiate the effects of war in their everyday lives how they wage war against one another both on and off the battlefield. what were the racial and gender dimensions of that experience? how did women and men have to change in the midst of war? so as i began this research, i repeatedly encountered incidents related to clothing from the remark from the remarkable to the mundane. the more archival sources. i read the more clothing i found and so i wondered just what was it about clothing? why was it everywhere and could people's experiences with clothing with production its use it's destruction reveal something new about the nature and conduct of war about the process of emancipation or about wartime society itself. so i can firmly say that the answer is yes clothing played a critical role in how people
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experienced negotiated and waged war. the clothing that people made in war might seem inconsequential, especially when we think about the broader stakes. there's wartime mobilization the carnage of the battlefield the end of slavery, but clothing was central to the way in which people experienced all of these things. wartime mobilization meant the mass production of army uniforms drawing seamstresses and textile workers into more direct contact and conflict with the government than they had previously experienced. debates over whether or not to wear body armor affected how men approach the battlefield and the theft of clothing as men looted dead bodies added to the previously unfathomable horrors of the battlefield. the end of slavery posed a pressing need for clothing for hundreds of thousands of formerly enslaved people and it created an entire market of new consumers. and the finer dresses suits and us army uniforms that freed african americans war on
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southern streets after the war enraged some white southerners and the ripping of that clothing was often the first of many atrocities that they endured and my research has been possible because so many people save their clothing as relics of war as a tangible way of excess accessing their memories. so yes clothing has much to tell us about war. and i'm happy to expand on any of those topics during the q&a but as i thought about this talk i kept returning to this one image that i found in the american civil war museum in richmond. and that is this tin type. of charlie wheat a young confederate soldier from luray, virginia. so 1925 a confederate veteran presented the confederate museum in richmond with this 10 type of cc charlie wheat who was killed april 19th. 1862. across the court cardboard mat charlie's brother joseph who survived the war scrawled the photographs history.
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this picture was lost in 61 was found on the body of a dead yankee at sharpsburg 62. so how did this happen? charlie gave this photograph to a relative, but it was lost when northern soldiers stole from her house in 1861 and a few years later a confederate soldier stopped at this woman's home for supper and showed her his collection of battlefield relics. imagine her shock a discovering the stolen ten type of charlie in the soldier's bag of relics. the pleasure of having the ten type return to her. must have been dampened by the memories triggered by the knowledge that the ten type had been looted from the pockets of a dead soldier because charlie's body too was looted when he died. when his body was found in the woods near luray it was described as all muddy from the red clay and stripped of everything but the underclose
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charlie wheat and his ten type likeness both fell victim to looting during the civil war the 10 type was stolen by a union soldier from a private house. it was taken again when a confederate soldier rifled through the pockets of that dead union soldier and charlie himself was stripped of his clothing shoes and all of his personal effects after he was shot dead. the stories remarkable in terms of the series of coincidences that occurred but the individual thefts themselves were not at all uncommon during the war plundering and pilfering have been and continue to be forms of violation that have historically accompanied war. it is then attempting attempting to explain civil war theft is simply a casualty of war. and the soldiers behavior just a wartime aberration. but this explanation fails to capture the connections people made between themselves and
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their possessions and the powerful effects that loss could have on the human psyche while the people involved in the theft and recovery of charlie wheat's 10 type may have temporarily deviated from their normal behavior. they weren't alone and engaging in acts of theft and broadly the redistribution of clothing. both armies captured and put into use material sees from supply trains bodies were stripped on the battlefield union and confederate soldiers looted white and black southerners homes. formerly enslaved people took clothing from former and slavers. through all of these acts black and white americans violated the boundaries of the body and a property. shaping wartime culture in which the threat of looting altered daily material life the clothing of course was far from the only target of looting theft or destruction silver china where even pianos were taken from southern homes, and we know that houses themselves were burned to the ground in their entirety. but the theft of clothing had a more personal critical element compared to the theft of a side
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chair. people didn't own a lot of clothing in the 1860s and it was very valuable. and as something that is worn against the body and a central to the way people present themselves, it's central to a person's identity and an object that is capable of storing memories of a particular person. this isn't to say that other possessions are heirlooms aren't significant, but rather that there was a particularly acute feeling of violation when one's most personal possessions the things that they wore and were connected to their body. we're taking against their will whether that happened on the battlefield or at home. so i could take this in a few different ways, but i want to focus on a particular kind of violation the stripping of soldiers bodies on the battlefield and i'll offer a word of warning that some of the descriptions that will follow our violent in nature. on february 13th. 1864 frank leslie's illustrated newspaper published a front page
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illustration entitled rebel soldiers after battle healing meaning stripping the fallen union soldiers from a sketch by an officer. leslie's assessment of this scene is evident in the portrayal of the confederates. the visible faces are sinister a man in the right foreground hasn't almost animal like appearance and in the background two men are tugging a body between them as if it were any other object. leslie's asserted that such stripping was an organized system in the armies of the confederates. and the newspaper further suggested that confederates quote wretched financial condition the difficulty of obtaining clothing seem to be an excuse, but the whole affair is so characteristic of the rebels so clear an example of their want a finer feelings. so confederates organized system of peeling bodies was considered to be glaring material evidence of inhumanity. war force soldiers and civilians to contend with bodies and mass death in ways that were unprecedented for this generations of americans. technological changes meant not
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only increased increasingly deadly battlefield, but also the meaning of bodies of the men who survived we know that men try to close himself off psychologically which helps soldiers to follow the command of officers and both armies to gather items. that would be useful to the army including guns and ammunition. but as they walked amongst bodies of dead men and horses soldiers on both sides. also stripped enemy bodies of uniforms shoes and personal effects gathering trinkets and better clothing with which to supply themselves. the scenesmen witnessed in the horrors experience by those who lay incapacitated on the battlefield. could make the stripping of dead bodies seem inconsequential. buzzard circled while hogs snorted and rooted through the dead and wounded bodies began to decay quickly in the heat. faces as one soldier described turned black as charcoal and bloated out of all human semblance. andy burial details found the
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bodies had become so offensive that men could only endure it by being staggering drunk bodies in these conditions was driven by more than a desperation for supplies or a breakdown of order. some confederates were indeed poorly supplied they require new clothing and they stripped bodies to acquire it. but as we see with charlie weed's body union soldiers too stole the clothing off of dead men. one former confederate described the transformation of the fredericksburg battlefield over the course of the battle and is aftermath he said before the fight there was just the field next it was covered all over with your fellows and blue clothes. saturday night the blue clothes were stripped off and only their white under clothes left monday night. these were stripped off and tuesday. they all lay in their naked skins. words describing the stripping don't capture the corporeality of the act or experience to take
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a bet dead man's clothes did not simply involve picking up an abandoned code from the ground. it required a looter to pull off the man's gear unbutton the code the pants the suspenders to reach into the pockets and sift through letters knives and trinkets it meant wrestling. with to remove that clothing from a body whose limbs had begun to stiffen in the prophecies of rigor mortis at times exacerbated by freezing conditions. so what were the consequences? such clothing theft had important cultural and political implications for the men involved soldiers journals and reflections. make it clear that treating the dead with disregard was debasing for both the dead in the living and like the northern press union soldiers drew on the image of confederate stripping northern soldiers bodies as evidence of southern and humanity and as further reason to seek revenge against rebels. as one ohio soldier explained by the side of every one of our dead men you would see an old
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pair of shoes and a greasy filthy pile of clothes. i never hated them until now. i have now a thirst for vengeance. a union officer believed acts of stripping the bed to be so repugnant that he ordered his men to leave all dead confederates unburied on the battlefield in retaliation. other officers worried about the practical consequences of wearing stolen clothing including the spread of disease one officer ordered soldiers to avoid using all federal clothing after the recent appearance of the telltale rash and pustules of smallpox on the bodies of confederates that was directly traced to the use of yankee clothing. that had been stolen from prisoners of war. now when the bodies have been removed from the battlefield the material of battle remained leading to yet another wave of scavenging. at gettysburg the ground was almost carpeted with knapsacks havre sacks canteens hats caps blankets. in fact everything that goes to
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make the horrors of a battlefield. one might obtain a blanket or a cap. but as one soldier explained. many of the hats and caps are besmired with brains and the blankets dotted with blood. nevertheless one man regularly went to communities near chancellorsville and the wilderness where he bought boxes of salvage clothing. to trade now clothing was from families who had picked up soldiers clothes from the battlefields. in this way. soldiers gear and clothing made its way onto the second hand market and into homes of civilians. both soldiers and civilians then might find themselves wearing the pants of a dead soldier during and after the war. while on his tour of the south battlefields and ruined cities. john trowbridge encountered a man who told him he that apple tree. i got a right good pair of pants off one of your soldiers under that tree once. was he dead? yes shot through the head. the parents weren't hurt none.
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so trowbridge turned to another man and said did you rob a dead soldier of those pants you have on? and there are man replied that he had bought them in fredericksburg, and he had never robbed a dead man. so true ridge preston. how do you know they weren't taken from a corpse? the man replied that they might be but it couldn't be helped. so this raises a significant question about the afterlives of ludo clothing. what did it mean to wear the clothing and use the personal effects found in the pockets of the dead? and the mud and meyer that was many soldiers lives. it may have made little difference. but others seem to have been haunted or repulsed by the experience. few soldiers seem to have written reflections on what it meant exactly to wear a dead man's clothes, but one imagines that when putting on a coat previously worn by a soldier who had died a man might have considered how it had been obtained. confederate soldier alexander hunter was proud of the coheed
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war so proud in fact that he later donated his coach to this smithsonian. the coal was that of a dead man, but hunter did not steal it rather that dead man's sister gave it to him when she saw that he was wearing a tattered jacket. in contrast another soldier's reaction to the discovery that the pocket watch he purchased secondhand had been looted from a dead man's body suggest that some men found the prospect of wearing such items. absolutely repulsive. after the war ended charles pumacher purchased this watch and had his initials engraved on it. and describing the purchase he explained. i bought a watch without knowing where it came from, but was told later by comrades of the very thief thief that this timepiece had been stolen from an officer at the battle of antietam. so plumaker inquired further about that officer's identity and how he had died. the officer's death was caused by cannon fire.
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he was shot down 16 paces from the canon's mouth. we make her didn't elaborate on the significance of the proximity of the officer to the canon but underlying his statement here is the knowledge that the officer would have been severely wounded possibly mutilated. and the thought of this horrified plumbaker. he never wore the watch again. any eventually seems to have tried to atone for what he considered a disgraceful act by sending the watch to the governor of the state of virginia not knowing the name of the man who had owned it. eventually, it became part of the confederate museum in richmond, virginia. so although both poolmaker and hunter had owned and used at least for a time articles that were taken from a dead man's body. they had opposite reactions to the experience. that contrast suggests that what matter to their sensibilities wasn't the act of wearing something removed from a dead person, but rather how those objects of personal adornment have been taken off of that dead, man. whether they had been removed
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lovingly by a sister or seized from the bloody pockets of a soldier made by a cannonball. battlefield theft involving clothing described in general terms historians convey a battlefield scene in which soldiers picked clothing and possessions off of men's bodies whom they had never before seen but even as soldiers walk the battlefield pulling coats off of corpses. they neither knew nor had killed the dead rarely remained entirely anonymous. clothing itself offered evidence of the owner's identity. it wasn't uncommon for soldiers to have their names written in their clothing as a means of identifying it when they send it out for laundering and tailors too marked clothing is part of an inventory and laundry control system. and then of course the items that were kept in the pockets of coats and trousers. and stripping a man's body of clothing soldiers didn't only debase the humanity of those who had died in battle. they also stole their identity.
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stripping and looting the pockets of bodies had devastating consequences for many families with the burial process often taking days after the battle many men's bodies had to be caved beyond recognition. and although names written collars were likely intended for laundry. they could be relied upon to pass on information to family members about a soldier's fate. letters and papers and jacket pockets and knapsacks could provide clues about a soldiers identity, insignia on hats helped identify the companies. when these items were stolen the letters the coats and knapsacks a body could remain unidentified. and one fredericksburg woman reported that quote all the clothes have been stripped from the bodies of the union soldiers and the only clothing that could be identified were three soldiers caps bearing the numbers 131 pv. the burial party did not recover the remains for over a week, and she did not see how quote all the corpses could be recognized. and circumstances like these families might never know the fate of fallen soldiers the stripping of their bodies had
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erased their ability to be identified and therefore their identities themselves. and indeed i've wondered whether charlie weed when stripped to his under clothes and covered in mud. would have been identified had he not been filled so close to home while patrolling near his community. thank you. thank you very much for sharing those powerful stories with us. second speaker tonight is dana b shoaf. he is the editor of civil war times magazine as well as a contributing editor to america's civil war magazine. show serves on the advisory board at shepherd universities george tyler moore center for the study of the civil war and i'm sure many of you out there have benefited either from his contributions to publishing about civil war history, or maybe you've heard him at one of
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the many conferences and seminars and roundtables. he's spoken out his title tonight is led assassins a new spin on the mini ball, and maybe he'll correct my pronunciation of many. i'm not sure about having things over to you to find out. thank you. good evening everybody and thank you very much paul for that nice introduction, and i'd also like to thank virginia tech for asking me to participate in this conference and also for hosting it. i really appreciate it. as paul said i wanted to spend some time this evening talking about bullets and especially those bullets that were used in the long arm of the civil war fired by infantry men carbine rounds are not part of this discussion, but i got interested, but what's a number
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of years ago and i started to collect some of them and i developed some thoughts about the bullet and i actually think that the many ball is a bit sort of the impact. it happened on the war is perhaps overstated and i'd like to take a look at that tonight over the next few minutes. so to start things off. the many ball is an icon of the civil war and i think that's one of the things that we a lot of people sort of connected to importance to through sort of it's prevalence in in the war and we have this view of the bullet reinforce and numerous ways one when you visit battlefields you see the many ball sort of in a super scale like this seventh, new jersey monument. at gettysburg near the wheat field and just about every major battlefield will have a monument or two with a large mini ball on it sort of reemphasizing. it's supposed importance to the
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war. and of course how it changed the battlefield because these bullets were designed to be used with rifled muskets that had grooves cut in the inside of their barrels. then these bullets these mini balls were designed to expand and catch that rifling which gave the bullets a spin and supposedly let them go longer and straighter and we're more accurate so they made the war much more deadly is sort of the one of general thoughts about it. so we've kind of all kind of grown up sort of reading and feeling that about the many ball the other thing about these bullets tying them to the war and making us give them a sense of importance is that they are prevalent. if you go to battlefields any magic major battlefield go to the relic shops around the battlefields, you will find bins of these bullets for sale for three to five dollars. they're inexpensive. so in the most inexpensive relics of the civil war, they feel good in your hand. they have a good tactile feel
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and they give you something that can physically connect you to the conflict. you can take it home and i imagine many of you out there actually have a mini ball or two on your shelves. so i before we get rolling on all of this i wanted to give you a short history of the many ball to find out where it came from. and of course many of you may be familiar that french captain claude monet. and of course as paul said many is sort of the french panachiation the americanization as many ball either is fine invented the round in the late 1840s, and he wanted to produce a bullet. it could be loaded quickly into rifle long arms, that would also increase the effective range of infantrymen enabling them to aim and hit opponent 250 to 300 yards at least. this top sort of cutaway is a view of minet's invention and it's called a conical ball.
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that's sort of the technical term for and you can see it's very familiar to a shape many of you have seen it comes to a cone or a point and the base consists of several ridges or rings that are designed to flare out and catch the rifling. to achieve this flare the bullet had a hollow base. now monet's bullet expanded because there were these little metal discs in the base and when the musket was fired the expansion of gases from the gunpowder forced those metal discs up and forced the side of the base out. therefore making the bullet work now almost immediately. this invention gets across the atlantic. james burton pictured here became the master acting master armor of the harpers ferry arsenal in 1849. so the same year many invents it burton begins to tinker with the many ball to try to come up with
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his own spin on it if you will and in 1855 he arrives at this variation and it's very similar to what menai had designed but you can see the base is much different. it's a triangular opening and much thinner size which allowed for the omission of those metal discs because this would allow production to speed up. you don't have to worry about making a little bits and inserting them. you can make the bullet much faster. it was tried by the united states army and adopted as the official bullet of the united states army in 1855. now moving on to the bullets themselves. here's a picture of three projectiles 69 caliber 58 caliber and 54 caliber. generally the most common calibers used during the war. these are all union issue bullets, and they look like sort of standard issue. they look like they're all the same, but if you look closely
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they're different. they have variations between them and i will get into more this as we move through some of them the one in the middle for example is swaged or forced through a machine stamped if you will the two on the flanks are cast so these bullets are made in different. oh, i should say the middle bull is actually switched and then turn on a lathe. so they're made in different ways. and so they're really is no standard bullet in the civil war and i think the round really is experimental throughout the conflict because it's only been on the military landscape a very short amount of time and throughout the war people are still going to try to take her with how do you make the perfect many ball? so there's a lot of variations on these bullets that are going to affect their effectiveness. let's start by taking a look at some of the federal variants out there. this is these are just four of the many variants that existed.
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from left to right and both cases. this is the on the left is the standing bullet and on the right. you see it's base in the same order. the leftmost bullet is a schaler three-piece fully. this was an embedded by ruben and irish shailer in patented in august 12th. 1862. it consists of three separate slugs that nested into each other and the idea was it would triple the lethality of the soldier using this round the bottom slug has a hollow base as you see just like burton's bullet does it has the same capacity to flare that board out to catch the rifling? the slugs were supposed to separate when they left the muzzle hopefully each finding their own individual target, but in many cases they don't work. the boards did not actually separate and when they did separate they were widely inaccurate they could plunge into the ground and the bullet was not really successful. still 300,000 and some of these
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were issued out to union soldiers during the war and the shailers actually had three different variants of their variant trying to make this thing work effectively and it never really did. next to the shaler. we see a dark colored bullet. this is samuel gardner's explosive musket. shell that was the term that he gains to it. the reason it's called a musket shell is it was designed to explode and it's made out of pewter. all these other bullets are made out of lead, but this bullet is made out of pewter because pewter is brittle and will shatter more easily in the jagged shapes, and it's called a musket shell because as you see this projection on the base, this was still with a slow burning material when the weapon is fired. the gunpowder gas is ignite that slow burning material, which burns like a fuse as this bullet supposedly sailed through the air toward the confederate battle line exploding it just the right moment and creating
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shrapnel and inflicting more wounds. they didn't always work and there were only about 45,000 of those bullets issued before it was found out they were really impractical and those bullets. actually. it's kind of interesting are only associated with the army of the potomac and two campaigns the chancellorsville campaign and the gettysburg campaign is where you find them recovered by archaeologists and metal detectorists, but no no other point in the war so they had a very short time in the field. next to this we have a 69 caliber slug and this slug is actually lathe turned part of it. it part the bullet was pressed through a machine to create the basic shape of the slug, but then you can see why this line around the nose. it was put in a chuck on a lathe and literally turned at high speed and have a lathe nice coming here and cut these grooves and it only has two rings instead of three.
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and the grooves are fairly shallow. so this is another way that a bullet could be produced. so you've got bullets that are cast and you got bullets that are partially lathered and extruded. as well the far right bullet is a williams cleaner round and the cleaner is more of a modern name than anything because this was invented by elijah williams of philadelphia. and december of 1862 now i for many years like a lot of people thought that this bullet was expressly made to clean the rifling after it got fouled one williams cleaner around was issued per 10 regular cartridges to union infantrymen for much of the war. the way this bullet worked is when the musket was fired the gases would force this zinc disc up. it would expand a little bit and catch the rifling as it went out supposedly scouring it of the fouling that build up from black powder.
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but williams developed this simply as another variant of a burton ball. this was his idea of what a perfect mini ball should be again trying to you know, a variation of this. fairly new invention and it was the united states army ordinance officers that thought it might have a capability of cleaning the rifling when it was fired. many union infantry men however, did not like this bullet at all. they thought it damaged their rifling more than it helped it and these particular rounds came in different colored cartridge paper it blew or red sometimes dream. so soldiers could identify. the round in their cartridge box and many of them through them away their excavated on fired and great numbers and also archaeologists have recovered sort of, you know, great accumulations of these williams cleaner rounds where there was a ammunition issue. the soldiers went through loading their cartridge box and
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simply throwing the cleaners in a pile on the ground and marching away. they didn't want anything to do with them. so here we see four variants and and how bullets were made and also sort of not very successful bullets. turning to the confederate side of the line you find even more variations. there are this is just really the tip of the iceberg for confederate bullets. really these four rounds that i selected. starting on the left. we see there's very ungainly looking bully. that is obviously cast you see this mismatched casting line this is a 69 caliber bullet made at the raleigh school for the deaf dumb and blind and raleigh, north carolina the raleigh arsenal contracted with that school to make cartridges and the young boys of the school that were who were able to do so cast these bullets and the school made about a million rounds during the war so they made a lot in 69 58 and 54
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caliber all three major calibers. so take a look. you can see how poorly cast it is and then if you look at the base look how much thicker it is on the bottom as opposed to the top a very poorly cast bullet. next to it is an austrian copy. the state of north carolina also imported these moles from austria these european style bullets. they are a little different that they don't have a conical base. they have a flat base and they were designed when the musket was fired that the base was would be forced up and force out this middle thin which would catch the rifling so yet another variant. next to that we see a bullet known by collectors as a high base. that's a collector's term the charleston arsenal produced these these were cast and you see they have basically two rings here and very shallow grooves and a high base.
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next to that is a bullet known by collectors as the georgia --. it's a little larger in size. it's also cast and if you look at the base over here what you'll notice the reason it gets that name is in the middle. there's this little appendage that sticks down. you can kind of see it that's left from the casting process, but take special note of how thick the base of that bullet is much thicker than the other bullets most of the other mini balls or burton ball variants that we've looked at. so let's take sorry about that. let's take a little closer. look at a specific confederate bullet to give you another example and this bullet was very commonly issued to confederate troops for two years of the war. this is frederick gardner's problematic bullet. that's what i call it and we see it here represented in 69 58 and 54 caliber. it's also a cast bullet. it was unusual in a number
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regards the diagram shows you that this bullet unlike other rounds was not encased in a paper cartridge. rather the cartridge was cramped into the base of the bullet during a manufacturing process and those little dots represent gunpowder inside the paper cartridge. this was the most prolific confederate bullet made for two years and this design was supposed to speed production by skipping a step of having the bullet then put in another paper cartridge and it did increase the production of this round. and in these slides here, you can see the base of frederick garda's bullet here and you can see those the two layers of lead between which the paper cartridge was crimped. you may also notice that this particular bullet has a very deep base okay, so when you cast a bullet like these bullets were cast. there's some problems that could get built in one air bubbles can form if the mold is not hot
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enough if the lead is not the right temperature. so internal flaws can occur in a bullet. with coupled coupling those flaws with the fact that this base was very deep these bullets were very prone to blow throughs. we're literally when the musket is fired the bullets top blows through it blows off and you can imagine then these rounds are ineffective. they more or less tumble out of the basket. they don't have any real accuracy and on the far right you can just see daylight through that example. it's blown clear through these are not uncommon fines by relic hunters and archaeologists. i own these three, they weren't very expensive and that means they're not very rare and really, you know, it besides that this bullet was still commonly issued. for two years of the conflict and even after the production ceased it was still issued out and production will see so
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january 64 because of this problem with the blow through as as well as some others but again, another sort of variation on the mini ball. that doesn't work very well. let's take a quick look at imported english rounds, okay. the a lot of bullets were imported from england by both sides and used during the war by both sides the 577 caliber english round is very common. this is a nice example of one here and you can see these bullets are stamped or extruded without any rings at all. they're flat. and they relied on an a system to flare out the caps the rifling this however is not a little metal cup. this was a tiny little boxwood plug that was inserted in the base and when the musket is fired, it slams forward expanding the base of the board to catch the rifling. over here on the left. we see an actual english cartridge made by ea ludlow in
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england and they actually did put labels on every cartridge that they made and in the base here. we see dried wax where this cartridge has been dipped in wax. a soldier would take of course the top of this cartridge this little tab tear it off with his teeth and pour the powder into the barrel of his musking now in this cartridge, the bullet is oriented with the cone up. so the cone is actually here in this bullet and the bottom is here. so after pouring the powder in his musket, the soldier would have to turn the cartridge around again place the wax stand in the muzzle and ram it down. that's in direct contrast to the american cartridges that are made with the bullets facing down the top of the bullet is here and the base is here and this is the gun pattern so when this cartridge is torn open you simply turn it upside down squeeze out the powder and then the bullet now soldiers could
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get mixed issues of these from one time to another because they often would work in the same weapon and one of the things you also see are bullets as you see here illustrated on the bottom that are loaded upside down this particular round was loaded upside down in a 58 caliber musket and it was pulled out by a worm when a soldier was coming off picking dude or something like that, but numerous examples of this type of problem have been found in bullets that were in fact fired because of course these troops don't have the best training and this is another mistake that can happen. now before i talk a little bit about buck and ball, i just want to reiterate that you see in all these variants each one of these variants is going to have different flight characteristics. it's going to require a different amount of powder to make it work effectively and if a bullet has a few grains less powder, it won't fly as as well. it's was is it was designed to do so and you've got nervous
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soldiers spilling gunpowder and all over the battlefield always hear about soldiers with grime on their face from gunpowder, and i've talked to people that have fired these live and they can become wildly inaccurate if you don't have right amount of powder in there. so this is a buck and ball cartridge also issued to civil war soldiers who carried smoothbore weapons with and those are weapons without any rifling in the barrel. it's a 69 caliber round ball with three 32 caliber buckshots above it. and really this round is just as effective as the many ball during the civil war most killing is done at 68 to 8 60 to 80 yards if you imagine a football field and at that distance this round is going to be just as effective as the many ball. and it leads me to my last slide here the real revolution i believe is the use of the percussion cap during the civil war. it's the ignition system of the
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long arm the common long arm before the civil war in large part, you know, at least the mexican war you saw both percussion and flint being used but through the revolution the war of 1812. the flint lock is the standard ignition system. that means it requires a rock a piece of stone the gun to go off. a flint is held between the jaws of the hammer which is cocked back. a cartridge is torn open gunpowder is poured in a pan. this present is snapshot over the pan and then a trigger is pulled dropping the flint onto the present creating a shower of sparks dropping into the pan igniting the powder charge in the barrel when a spark goes through this little vent that you could barely see a lot of stuff can go wrong with this convert some ignition system. it can get fouled in the weather. it does not spark the flint can wear out and not spark. well the touch hole can get plugged up and you can even as i
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said, you really can't fire this even when it's damp sometimes high humidity will prevent that exposed pan from from going off and discharging the weapon. by the civil war the percussion lock is common. the first percussion muskets are issued to united states troops the model 1842 smoothbore. you can see it's a much simplified lock all of this has been replaced by this cone or -- over which is placed this little copper percussion cap with fulminate of mercury. the hammer is pulled back the full caulk one of these top hats is placed over the cone. the trigger is pulled the hammer comes down and a spark will drop into the barrel igniting the main charge so compared to the mini ball. we don't know much about the percussion caps development or it's acceptance by the united states army. it's one of the things that i hope the further research when covid allows us to get back into the archives because they did test the percussion caps united
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states army, but um, it is certainly a more weatherproof faster to load round. which gives soldiers the greater opportunity to fire it will so when an enemy battle line is crossing the ground toward a defensive position the soldiers and the defensive position are firing it. well meaning every man is firing his own rhythm. so there's constantly lead going down range throwing these bullets out in the air much more quickly and you have to also realize the weatherproof nature. this is very significant because battles are fought in the rain during the civil wars, uh, spotsylvania for example doesn't really happen in 18th century, for example, because you can't fight because the pattern will get wet. so fighting in inclement weather means more opportunity for men to get killed and the percussion ignition system is one of the reasons that generals like grant and sherman can launch total
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war. armies did go in a winter camp previous to the civil war because the roads were bad. they also went in the winter camp during that day of season because they knew their muskets might not be effective, but grant and sherman didn't have to worry about that when sherman was marching to the sea and grant was working around. lee's right flank at petersburg and lastly the mini ball quickly disappears from the military landscape the end of this after the civil war is basically gone with the muzzleloaders the percussion cap. however is still with us. they simply the this individual progression cap has now been placed in the center of brass cartridges. it's very much the same idea for centerfire bullets. so i believe that the percussion cap is the real technological revolution. that should get as much attention at least as the mini ball and rifling during the conflict. thank you.
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thank you so much. that was fascinating. i really enjoyed that and i can see we'll have to have you back for the sequel the full length lecture about the percussion cap revolution watch this space for that and okay. our final speaker tonight is kurt luther. he's an associate professor of computer science right here at virginia tech who also has an appointment and as a courtesy or affiliate professor in the history department and as you might imagine this isn't very common to have this expertise in compete science and history, so i'm really glad he was able to join us tonight and kurt has joined together his civil war expertise with this historical expertise in the website. he's created called civil war photo sleuth. i'm sure many of you have heard of this before but it uses both facial recognition technology and community crowdsourcing. identify unknown soldier photos,
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so i encourage you all to google civil war photo sleuth check out the website, but first stick around and listen to his talk, which is titled civil war photographs as resources past present and future. thank you. thanks very much, paul. all right, so as paul mentioned i am going to talk about civil war photos. and how they serve as resources, and of course, i'll start with the history how photos were used as resources during the civil war years and directly after but as paul mentioned, i'm also computer scientists, so i will also be talking about how civil war photos can be used as modern resources and even how they might be used in the future. in particular, i'm going to talk about how we're creating new
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technologies that unlock the mysteries of these photographs. so photos were really important to people who lived during the civil war era. it was an exciting time for photography. it was a relatively new technology. the civil war was of course the first wiley documented war through photography and it was becoming cheap enough that just about anybody could afford to get their photos taken. so it was good timing as far as the civil war breaking out photos were really important to families soldiers going off to war they want photos of loved ones to bring with them the loved ones back home are wanting to have photos of the soldiers going off to war and they almost literally became the social media of the era people would collect photos of not just family members and friends, but also celebrities commanding generals on both sides of the
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armies politicians you name it. they were famously called the sentimental greenbacks of the day. and i think these images here show how valuable they were as emotional resources, and you can see just in these two selections the contrast of sadness on the one hand and happiness and joy on the other the woman on the left. she's wearing a morning brooch, and she's holding a framed photo of a loved one. perhaps her husband on the right these two soldiers expressing friendship and humor as they share a couple of cigars. and i think we're familiar with this kind of emotional power because they hold a similar power for us today and not just these photos that we're looking at from the civil warrior of but also the ones we create ourselves, but what might be less familiar is how these photos are also valuable as informational resources, and that's what i'm going to talk mostly about today.
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so this is the second story you'll hear tonight about a photograph found on the body of a debts, you know soldier. this is a relatively well-known story. i think of soldier found union soldier found on the battlefield at gettysburg killed and unidentified but on his person is a with three children. um, and once this was learned there was a sort of national campaign to try to identify this soldier through the photograph of these three children and so the photo was copied and card to visits like the one you see here and widely circulated and actually worked it was the the soldier was identified through the identification of his children and his name was sergeant ames humiston of 154th, new york. who you can also see a real photograph of down here as well.
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so here's an example of civil war photos being used to identify a soldier whose body was otherwise unidentified. see some other examples of other ways that civil war photos can be uses identifications. for example, they're also used to help help identify mail and letters. so the postal service had a branch called the dead letter office where undelivered mail was accumulated and there were clerks who were tasked with trying to figure out where these letters were supposed to be delivered. the clerks were actually women and clergy men who were thought to be more trustworthy. and they were allowed if they couldn't decipher the handwriting on the envelopes or couldn't figure out where the invalid address was supposed to go there actually allowed to open the letters and use the contents to figure out where they should go and oftentimes the contents included photographs. so and what you would end up
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with are these large collections of photographs that were linked to undelivered letters that would be mounted and displayed in the post office in washington dc. they were mounted on these big placards that you see here and these red numerals that you see correspond to the actual materials that the photo came with and these brass clips were used to mount them on the tops of the on the walls as well. so people would come in to this to this office and try to identify the soldiers in the photos and then use that to get material that maybe was intended for them and undelivered letter or notes. so the war ends and many of these photos remain unidentified and so there's this sort of national crowdsourcing campaign early crowdsourcing campaign to try to figure out where they belong and so these photos were actually bound up into a big
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giant photo album and this album had its own customized wooden cradle that was used to house it and it would travel across the country for two example different kinds of events like for the example of different worlds fairs. and supposedly this this actually worked it was able to successfully identify a number of these photographs one amazing story from 1898 and omaha woman browsing this album at the trans mississippi exhibition. she sees a wartime photo of her father named jj gorman. he was in the 86, indiana. and he mailed the photo from camp carrington to his family in 1862. so 35 years later his family finally receives the photograph and the the soldier who was so it's actually still alive was so pleased that he sent a thank you
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letter to the exhibit director and said i'm greatly obliged for the return of the picture. so, you know, this is 1898 within a few within a decade or two much of the civil war generation of passed on and relatives and ancestors a descendants rather are wondering who are in these photos? and it's a question that we're still asking today, maybe more than ever. so next i want to talk about how collectors and historians and others are engaging with civil war photos today as informational resources and some of the research that i've done on this topic and i call this photo sleuthing. it's basically the idea of using these photographs to identify the the subjects of the photos and amazingly many many of these photographs survive 150 years later one estimate is at least four million just union photographs are still around.
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but of course, we only know who the identified identities are for a few of them, maybe 10 to 20 percent by one estimate. but we want to know all kinds of people want to know historians and genealogists and archivists and collectors and dealers all have different motivations for trying to identify the portraits and they're using a variety of digital as well as traditional methods to do so increasingly. they're using social media to gather and try to conduct this photo soothing and solve these mysteries together. so i've interviewed a number of civil war photos salutes to understand more about their motives and their process. for example their motives include the joy of solving the mystery. it's like a big giant. jigsaw puzzle wanting to help the descendants of those pictured in the photographs. discovering the stories of the soldiers who are pictured trying to learn their their wartime experiences and put a name to
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the face. and then of course making money, there's greatly increased value if we can identify the name name and behind the photograph. so i've also stayed the process that civil war photos lose engage in when they're trying to identify these unknown photographs and it's really fascinating process. there's just a couple of steps. i'll have time to talk about today, but i think there are illustrative of the of the fascinating journey but also the challenges so first early on in the process the the photo sleuth will try to identify clues in the image itself, and there's clues on both the front and the back of the image. the face obviously is useful, but beyond the face we have the uniform with its rank insignia the weapons or equipment on the soldier the photographer's props and maybe the painted backdrop or other elements in the photograph. even the border style on the mount can be used to help date the image. and then the back of course has
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lots of valuable clues or it can sometimes the name of the photographer. it's the location of the studio if there's a tax stamp that can help date it to particular period of time maybe some kind of an inscription. so all these things can can help narrow down possibilities. and what do you do after that? well then you try to find reference imagery to try to actually determine identity for this solder. so let me take an example. that should be easy. it's a photograph of a union general and you can tell he's a general because he's wearing the the coat and the hat of a breeder general. however, once we determine that we have to go and find photographs of generals and it turns out there is actually a book just about union generals. they're aren't books for all different ranks, but there are in this case and there's 530 583 different photographs in this book if you went through through it age by page.
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you would be disappointed because this guy is not actually in there. and the reason is that he is wearing this brigadier general's uniform because he was received at brevit or an honorary promotion to a brigadier general when in fact that was not his official rank, so he doesn't appear in this book. he actually appears in a different book with 1,400 other generals brevit brigadier generals and if you page through that book eventually hundreds in you'll get a photograph of this guy who looks a lot like our our mystery soldier. and this is a you know, a general one of the highest rankings soldiers most likely to be photographed one of the easiest to recognize you can imagine how challenging it would be if it wasn't such a prominent individual. and indeed that's what the photo's loose told me in their interviews oftentimes. they don't even bother trying to identify this older if he doesn't have a certain rank, maybe it feel great or above and the lowest ranks enlisted men
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privates are almost impossible they found so this is clearly challenging. furthermore we're finding that. photographs from the civil warrior are being used for modern day misinformation. there's a fascinating research paper by some folks at uva talking about this photograph here that was being sold as supposedly a photograph of black confederates. and what it turned out to be was actually a cropped decolorized view of a lithograph of union us color troops, which you can see pictured up here. and through some additional research. i was able to determine that the the soldier pictured on the left who's actually cropped out in the the so called confederate view. he's actually a real person. his name is lieutenant george heath. he was agitant at one of the training camps for us color troops.
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so certainly not black confederates and certainly not confederates in any way but this if this old photograph was being used to promote a modern-day narrative. likewise just in the last couple of years. we've seen civil war photos being used to promote political misinformation in this case, uh that this was a photograph of joe biden's slave owning ancestor joseph j biden i was able to research this photo and identify him as a completely different soldier and sort of contradict this claim. they're actually wasn't any joseph jay biden in general, but this photo is also a completely different person. so we're seeing how these this historical images actually have very salient modern irrelevance in surprising circumstances. so identifying these photos of chapters challenging folks are
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are using these images for misinformation purposes. how can we try to improve this the situation? how can we try to help photos loose what they do? and that let us to create a website called civil war photo sleuth that paul mentioned. this is a free website that combines face recognition with community or crowdsourcing to try to identify these unknown individuals and civil war era photographs. and so it uses space recognition technology and you may be surprised to know that this does work on historical photos and it does you know with some caveats. these are black and white images they lack some of the color and and detail that we would benefit from in modern photos. sometimes they have damaged holes that make it less effective, but it can still be really useful for narrowing down possib. these from tens of thousands to just a few promising candidates.
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let me show you a short video of how the software works if you haven't used it before. you start out with a dashboard and you can add any photograph that you would like to try to identify. you simply need to have it digitized as a as a computer file, maybe a taken with a scanner or with a cell phone. you describe where it comes from. so other folks can get information about it. later. and once this photo is added you'll add some tags to try to describe it and basically tell the software everything that you can determine about its visual clues the uniform the rank insignia anything that could help narrow down the possibilities for who this soldier is so then those visual clues get translated into search filters if the solder was wearing a shoulder straps with an eagle on it. then we know that we only want to see search results of soldiers who served as union kernels at some point during the war and we have all the military
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records for each of these identified soldiers so we can look at promotions into motions. now we're going to see the search results coming in and it's going to be sorted in order of facial similarity the most similar looking soldiers appearing first and less so as you scroll down and again, all of these will have the same military records or matching uniform clues to what we're seeing on the mystery photo if you see one that looks promising you can compare it and get a deeper look into the visual clues the facial features and so on. and if you actually find one that you think is a match you can click the identify button and those two photos will be linked together and then other folks can explore the images come maybe way in on their own opinions about whether it's correct or not. so how did we build? a user community around this site. it's only going to be a successful as the people who are using it and adding photographs.
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first we went out to social media where folks were already trying to identify these photos in large numbers. we also did lots of in-person events. remember those civil war conferences and antique shows and you name it? and then finally lots of press coverage trying to talk to anybody who would talk to us about this project to help get the word out. and we've had a lot of success so far. i'm happy to say we did a study of our first month of usage to see how accurate were these identifications that people were making and we found that if it was a photo of the same view of the soldier and it had an inscription 17 of the 17 that we looked at were correct if it was a different view of this of the soldier, but had an inscription or if it was the same view of a soldier but no inscription. we still saw those accurate every single time 20 out of 20 and 13 out of 13. it was only the most difficult
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category where it was a different view of the soldier and no inscription information that we started to see some errors and the majority were still correct, but we did start to see some incorrect identifications requiring a little more research and attention. and participants talked about how exciting it was to get hits on these images as they started adding them to the site. as of today we have over for 15,000 registered users and they've contributed over 15,000 images and this is beyond the images that we see to the site with thousands of identified images from public collections, like the library of congress and national archives. so over 35,000 at this point. um, we've also had lots of fun individual success stories from public and private collections one of my favorite public collection examples was identifying this photograph amazing. tin type of a union assistant surgeon in the library of congress and they were nice
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enough to credit the name of the soldier and the civil war photo sleuth website in the library of congress entry. another my favorite examples is from a private collection. this was a collector of new hampshire images when he added this unknown photograph to the site. the first result was a soldier not from new hampshire but from new york didn't really make sense to the collector so he did some research and he found out that this soldier actually grew up in new hampshire area and had ties there. now that's promising but not conclusive what really helped was a few weeks later at a civil war show an identical an identical copy of this photograph showed up and this one actually had an inscription on the back william baldwin. it was the same guy thus confirming this sort of out there identification that otherwise he never would have thought to look never would have even thought to check out new york soldiers for this particular example.
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so going forward we've noticed that folks are using this site to ask for second opinions. they're posting their potential matches and asking the community. hey, do you think this is the right guy or do you think this is a correct match or what? so we're building new features that actually allow people to take advantage of this community through assessment and validation letting people seek opinion from others about potential ids way in on them in a structured way notice things you might have missed maybe people who are less invested or biased in the outcome and also to collaborate to actually work together on a photo mystery with trusted friends in private and prevent those missing identifications or wrong information from from leaking out. so i'll leave you with some final thoughts as you can see photos. looting is as old as the civil war itself it started even before the war had ended and these photos serve as both emotional and informational
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sometimes misinformational resources both then and now the motives for doing photosluthing in the techniques have changed over time and we can see that today community and computation or technology offer complementary strengths. so i think the future of photoshooting is bright but challenges remain. and i think what's really exciting here is that these these combinations of community and technology? not only let us solve these mysteries from the past. it allows us to solve mysteries of the past is one example recall that placard of the dead letter office that i showed earlier these photos, of course hung in the post office identities on known awaiting a recipient who never came and today we're able to apply modern photo sleuthing techniques to begin to rediscover their loss identities. this soldier for example is lieutenant charles wakeley. of the fifth connecticut infantry and with your help we
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can build on the efforts of the original photo slots and continue their important work. so, thank you very much. wonderful. thank you so much everybody. excellent talks, and i think there's some really interesting overlaps between your topics. so thank you. i'll start off with a question for our first speaker sarah weitzel. this is a two-parter from a participant who was asking have you ever heard of looting of women's bodies in warfare and was that considered two taboo? did it ever happen? do you know anything about it? and then secondly, when did this shift start to happen in in the looting of bodies as a taboo? and when did that become officially codified as a law of war, you know making this an illegal act? so many women felt compelled
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civilian women felt compelled to hide their valuables on their persons assuming that anything on their body would remain untouched. we know that that is not the case. it's also a very difficult subject to research because of the euphemistic language that people use and talking about violations of the body. so there are accounts of women hiding valuables beneath their skirts. those are very common, but that experience very class-based because both in terms of the items that were hidden and also the manner in which it was done. like the experience of a clinking silver teapot hidden under one's dress requires both objects of value and also the fashion to conceal them, which be a hoop skirt. so during the civil war women elite women especially resurrected the use of the pocket, which is a large flat bag that was tied around a woman's waist and they would wear those beneath their dresses and include their valuables there. um now that could be worn under any kind of dress. it could also be exchanged
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between members of the family, but there were also women who would so coins into garments themselves, so they would actually individually stitch around a coin within the fabric which would silence the coins and therefore decrease chances of discovery. people were very worried about when they moved would would someone notice that there was something that they hiding um, so as and far as the the second part of that question so this is a really murky territory during the civil war era. there are certainly, you know, parts of the libra code that could be applied to this. one of those says that money and other valuables that are on the person of a prisoner like watches or jewelry and extra clothing artery regarded as private property of the prisoner and are to be left with them. and there's but there's also things that say if a lot of uniforms are stolen or you know
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acquired from a a wagon that those uniforms need to be marked in another way in order to be used to distinguish them from the enemy. so and so there there are certainly instances where people are punished for this kind of looting but in general you see a lot of looking the other way. thank you. i have a question for dana about museums and the display and interpretation of many balls in museums. do you have any thoughts on how they should be interpreted in the museum setting and as a follow-on to that do you have any favorite exhibits of whether it's ammunition or weapons or similar kinds of things that you would point to as you know, there's a good example of the kind of way. we should be interpreting these objects. that's an interesting question, and i'm sure i'm probably
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forgetting something that i've seen somewhere that i particularly enjoyed regarding the exhibitory of the many ball not really going with the point that i was trying to make tonight, but i think one of the most interesting uses i have seen of many balls there was a museum. it's still exists in falmouth, virginia called the white oak museum. and it was a private relic hunters museum the fellow that founded it was named dp newton. he recently passed away raleigh connick is very controversial and i don't condone it on national battlefields or you know, anything like that at all but dp basically you know hunted on property he was allowed and he documented his fines very well and one of the things he had i found very interesting. he had a huge display. it was just a huge pile of many balls um, just almost four or
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five feet high. that he found over the years and it gave you this tremendous sort of sense of scale of the war. just this massive amount of bullets that were in there. and that's always stuck with me because i thought that was a really kind of effective way to to communicate the massive scale of these camps the waste that was left behind and also you can imagine the courage of the battlefield by looking at that display and thinking of all those bullets that were fired. i don't believe i've seen an exhibit that really addresses the variety of the many ball or the problems that occurred with it. and um, there some interesting displays. at the hines history center and a kentucky military history museum about the women who rolled and made these cartridges which again is not really on the
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the point that i'm trying to make tonight, but interesting social use of these bullets and cartridges and i would love to learn more also. more about that raleigh school for the death dove and blind something that needs researched. more intently. because i think that's fascinating that that that that particular school is appropriated for that purpose and the confederacy reaching out in that way and how that came to be one of the things that i'll just say as a blanket statement and you know, it's not really answering the question about museums and it kind of wrap that up. i think probably the the best many ball exhibit i have yet to see has yet to be put together put it that way although i do appreciate what dp newton did and if a museum has a good exhibit. i'm sure i'll hear about it after this but these bullets are understudied and there's you'd be surprised how many bullets?
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even advanced collectors aren't really sure where they were made. they haven't really tracked out where they were made and for example that role a that role a bullet was called a carcato bullet for years by collectors, and it was believed to have been imported from italy for some reason and then someone connected it to this raleigh arsenal. and realize no it was made here in the united states and there are bullets made for the union army. we're not jack. we're not exactly sure what armory produced them that have sort of specific features to them. so it's really understudied and i think it's sort of under exhibited as well in the public history sphere. well if the perfect exhibit ever does get built, i've got the perfect location for it for you. i only a few miles from where i'm sat right now in blacksburg is a place known locally as many ball hell and the legend is that
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when a union forces were retreating back to west virginia following the battle of floyd's mountain, you know some of the mountains around here are fairly steep. yes, they began to jet system some of their supplies that relating supposedly a bunch of mini balls. yeah do have a lot of weight when you add them all up. absolutely. all right, let's get the funding and we'll start an exhibit there. okay. excellent. i have a question for kurt regarding the website that you know, you've been putting together asking is there room for sleuthing of civilian images on this site. you know, you mentioned the use of the image of the soldiers children to help identify him. so are there any spaces for women for african americans who are contributing to the war effort, but didn't necessarily have uniforms. is that receiving attention at all? yeah, great question. so indeed we are looking for
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images of both soldiers and civilians on the site and we have a number of both kinds but i would say definitely more soldier images right now. what we're looking for primarily is we've said we're especially interested in photographs of civil war soldiers and sailors at any point in their lives so it could be before the war during the war or after the war and then civil war europe people. so people soldiers and civilians who lived during the civil war era, which i guess we could roughly say 80 1840s 1870s. so we have to cut the line we have to draw the line somewhere or we would be gathering photos of every person from the 19th century who lived in the us but the the rough rule of thumb is, you know, civil war soldiers are veterans at any point in their lives and anyone who lived during this civil war era as of interest to us. so on the site we have ways that
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you can catalog civilian clothing as well as military uniforms. and we found that i mean of course civilians have being stories just as much as soldiers and sailors, but there's very often important interconnections between the stories if you're trying to identify a soldier. it's very helpful to have a photograph of his wife or or his brother or something like that and and trying to draw those connections can can be really really helpful. it's all different pieces of the puzzle that you ultimately try to put together to put a name to a face. wonderful. yeah, i love the site. it's an excellent resource. that's great. i have another question for sarah. we you know, we don't necessarily have to go in the exact same order all the time, but another question for sarah which is have you come across examples of soldiers being formally punished by their superiors for stripping the debt.
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i have more frequently though. what i see is more of a a chastisement or a punishment that has to do with slowing down the army and that is especially the case for looting more generally essentially if you have too much to carry you're going to be asked to abandon it and in order for the army to keep moving moving quickly, so there are kind of range of punishments so to speak both formal, but but also a better peer pressure i suppose. thank you. there is a question. i think you wanted to answer kurt that you noticed in the q&a. i'll let you take that lead on that. sure. yeah, there is a nice question. about a lot of the example photos are of white men, and it
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looks like of course there are also black soldiers and a lot of the white men pictured have beards. so how well does the face recognition technology perform for those other types of groups and photographs and also the comment notes that the it could potentially be a biased technology that could maybe have issues there as well. so, how do we deal with that? so there's a couple different questions there. i think they're all interesting. we have photographs in our database of both white and black soldiers we have embarked on a project over the last couple of years to increase the number of photographs of black soldiers in our database. and i'm happy to say it. i think we have one of the largest if not the largest digitized collections of black union soldiers in in the world and that's just a lot of hard work trying to scour the public archives to find those images,
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but also generous users contributing the images in their own collections. now we face a couple of issues with respect to tobias. there's the issue of historical bias and the fact that there were just not as many photographs of black soldiers made and fewer of those have survived her day. it's actually kind of amazing. i ron coddington has a wonderful photograph a book of photographs of african american soldiers and he writes in that book how difficult it was to find even 70 odd examples of identified photos of black union soldiers. so we're talking it was hard to find. d in the entire world, so the numbers of identified images for black soldiers are just far far lower than they are for white soldiers. unfortunately, we do have a pretty decent collection of unidentified images though as for bias, beyond historical bias. there's also biased with the face recognition technology that has been an issue that you've probably heard about in the
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news. so what we've tried to do to combat that is we're using a technology that microsoft has provided called their face api and microsoft has done especially good job among the big tech companies that offer this service to try to mitigate some of the bias that the algorithm has shown so they've tried to add more training data more examples of black faces to the database in order to make it more accurate on those kinds of images and they've seen big strides of improvement with that with that effort being made. wonderful. thank you. dana question about percussion caps. did the technology come from europe or the united states? originally it was invented in england in the 1820s is believed to be the first use of it. i don't have the gentleman's name right on the tip of my tongue right now, but it was developed. by hunters because they felt
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that the flash of the flintlock. at brief moment before the barrel discharged startled the birds and would allow them to get away. so i guess this bloodthirsty motive was to shoot war birds and they came up with his ignition system that that didn't flash like that and from that beginning it sort of developed and was eventually studied by the military's and adopted. i do know that during the mexican war there was debate among the american high command because the thought was these were wasteful because you used one percussion cap per shot. whereas a flint a good flint would be good for dozens of shots. you know, there was that sort of hide them mentality. it's sort of held it up. and i do know. michael music whose name might be familiar to some of you worked in the archives for many years told me that there are
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records and papers from the period of the testing. of the percussion cap by the united states army, so i again hope i can get there at some point and find out more about it. but that's what i mean. it's sort of understudy. we don't know, you know, minnie's name is attached to his invention, and we just don't know much about nearly as much about concussion cap. we have time for maybe one more question caroline if you have one. yeah, sure. would it be possible to do that question that you post last week perhaps about how you all see your particular topic and it's important and relative effect on the civil war itself and just you know, the impact of what you study in particular. and we can start with sarah since you went first. well, i have the distinct advantage of talking about an
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item. that is both considered a luxury and a necessity since clothing is considered crucial for not only self presentation, but also for a basic survival. and you know, we know a lot about how people were attempting to alter clothing in order to make it a more usable tool for you know, creating an effective fighting force. so we have that on the one hand on the other hand. people are using this as a really important cultural political social tool. to combat a very wide range of of challenges that are coming up during the war. they're they're using clothing to think about what emancipation means and what a free society looks like they're using it to you know, think about women's
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ability to produce clothing to work as seamstresses and keep themselves employed. so there's just a really wide range of ways in which clothing is being both used by and used people during the war. data, well, i think that you know, i'd like to continue studying just how critical was the mini ball to the war? and you know, how crucial was it to the vast bloodshed and also i think there's a memory component here that needs explored. you know, how did it get to become this icon? and you know during the war itself they're actually was an officer that wrote a treatise. i didn't have a chance to bring it up. he brought up many of the concerns i had and he published it for officers to read. and i would like to see how deep that debate went among the high command and just sort of i guess. take a fresh. look at this bullet that we've given a lot of importance to
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over the years and see where the truth lies with this technological development. yeah for me, i think. photography is is really interesting because i think you know even during the warp everyday people recognize the power of photography and i think today we still realize that but as an object of study as a scholarly enterprise a study of civil war photographs is relatively new it hasn't gotten a whole lot of attention in the past until recently and so it's a really rich opportunity for for scholars and civil war history enthusiasts to become photos list themselves and you know technologically speaking. it's almost like the civil war in the sense. that photography is sort of in a heyday. it's incredible how many museums archives historic societies have
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digitized and made available their photographs in the past five to ten years and of course tools like face recognition allow us to examine those in new ways. so i think it's definitely really exciting time to be interested in civil war photography. i really want to thank everyone for attending tonight. we really appreciate your questions and your participation. i want to thank the speakers for giving us such wonderful talks such a range of topics each one just fascinating and and i can tell the audience by their questions were really really interested in your talks, too. so thanks to the speakers. i would also like to thank my colleagues at continuing and professional education. they're the ones who put this whole thing together and of course caroline newhall, helping moderate the questions tonight. so thanks very much everyone. have a good night and hope toy.
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