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Old 13th June 2019, 06:04 PM   #20
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 7,931

Originally Posted by kronckew
Cannon balls literally carpeted the Valley of Death, many rolling back downhill and collecting on the valley floor. This one is the same as the earlier photo, but before they cleaned up the road.

Wayne this is a most interesting perspective. There is indeed an alternate photograph without the cannon balls scattered, however in the investigations which I read, it was suggested this photo was taken BEFORE the balls were placed in array for a more 'provocative'(?) photo.

In looking at the photo, it does seem that some of the ordnance is somewhat imbedded in the dirt or ground material. If these were placed strategically for the purpose of a photographic image, would they have had such evidence of settling into the surface dirt? Meanwhile those balls on what appears to be the main 'travelled' part of the road remain superficially situated ( harder dirt?).

The suggestion that given the hilly terrain, the spent balls would have likely rolled downward after impact and loss of velocity, is well placed. But that so many seem to have all hit in the same place and rolled backward en masse seems somewhat suspect, though still plausible.

The trajectory and distances that cannon shot would travel, even though low velocity, is remarkable. Even a slow moving ball could effect traumatic injury past its established range, often they could even be seen moving along in flight.
My GG grandfather, who fought through the Civil War, and lived to very old age (died 1941) was interviewed about his recollections and asked if he was ever wounded said, he was....."got hit by a cannon ball once, but didn't hurt me none'!! Clearly the ball was beyond spent, and at the end of its flight.

I think the point is that regardless of how certain relics or objects which have provenance to a certain event or campaign are displayed, they still have inherent historical importance. We cannot possibly determine (usually) what the intent of such assemblies or displays might be, and can only try to appreciate whatever inherent value might exist.

With art, the purpose is to elicit certain emotional, sensitive and other subjective reactions in the viewer. Clearly those results have been accomplished here, thus is the essence of 'art', and well done.

We do all see things through different prisms, and myself as both artist and arms historian (only in degree in both) I am inclined to see subjects from an artistic perspective, and often overtly optimistic.

A quote I have long kept best describes:
"...I was once told that it was said of Laking (Sir Guy Laking, British arms historian and collector) that he would always find something kind to say about a fellow collectors object".
"Arms and Armor Study in Edwardian Britain"
Sid Blair & Michael Lacy (1999).

Laking was one of the early 'greats' in arms collecting and well known author of many long venerated articles and references, who I very much admired from my own early beginnings in collecting.
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