Monday, October 22, 2012

The Last Terrible Picture


#10
A Visitor to the Cyclorama

     Some years ago an old man with silvery hair was led into the cyclorama of Gettysburg by a bright-faced little girl. Aged and feeble, he sat down, while the child described to him the features of the picture. Occasionally he asked her a question as in doubt of the accuracy of her account. She had described the charge of the Confederate columns and the struggle at the stone wall, when he asked: “But where's the artillery, May?” “Do you mean the big guns? They're over there on the hill in a row.” “All in a row?” he asked, “yes,” she said; “there are some more down here, but they are all upset. I think they are bursted.” “Is that where the men are coming over the hill?” “Yes, grandpa.” “Is there a grove of trees?” “Yes, it seems to be full of men, but the smoke is so thick you cannot see them.” “O, I see them,” he cried. It was then noticed by some of the party near him that he was blind. The little girl answered: “O, no, grandpa, you can't see them.” “Yes, I can,” said the old soldier. “I can see the men, the grove, and the broken cannon lying about.” The child looked at him in innocent surprise, and said: “You are joking, grandpa,” “No, my dear,” answered the old man. “No, that was the last thing I ever saw. There was a caisson exploded there just this side of the stone wall, and that was the last terrible picture I ever saw, for it was then that I lost my eyesight, and I have never got the picture out of my mind.”

- James R. Randall. “Memorable Vision of Gettysburg,” Confederate Veteran, vol. 15, 1907, p. 389.

The "exploding caisson" in Philippoteaux's painting

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