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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Interpreting Battles

I mentioned the Battle of Monmouth in a June posting, as June marks the anniversary of the battle.  Returning to it, we can consider how we can meaningfully relate physically to battles long ago when we visit the place of battle.  A battle such as Monmouth, over such a broad area, involving tens of thousands of men and lasting as long as it did, is extraordinarily difficult to "recreate." However, reenactors such as those at Monmouth seek to interpret the battle.  Just as a few photographs can provide a window only into the place, details of reenactment can provide the beginning of a glimpse across the centuries.  I like this image for what it shows regarding the firing of a cannon like those used at the battle, and how those at the time might well have reacted, and looked, at the moment of firing.

The photographer must be selective.  Unlike film, only a moment can be captured.  Here, the detail of a unit demonstrating the loading and firing of a cannon provides a tile in the broader mosaic.  Did the artillerymen of Henry Knox cover their ears like this? 
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