The Graduate Center - City University of New York

A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Of the eighty-seven photographs taken at Gettysburg, A Harvest of Death remains one of the most poignant and powerful. Taken two or three days after the battle (July 1-3, 1863) in which each army suffered more than 20,000 casualties, this image among the many taken in the aftermath of fighting was one of the most reproduced and commented on, its stark matter-of-factness lacking the poignancy and sentimentality of many battlefield photographs. In time, it also became controversial. Published as plate 36 in the postwar Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War (Volume 1), A Harvest of Death bears a notable resemblance to plate 37, illustrating the same bodies from a different angle. The accompanying description with plate 36, however, identified the dead as Confederate, while that for 37 designated the bodies as Union.

Creator: Timothy H. O'Sullivan

Date: July 5 or 6, 1863

Publisher: Alexander Gardner, Gardner's photographic sketch book of the war (Washington, D.C.: Philp & Solomons, c1866)

Source: Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress