Sample for Class
“Charleston, South Carolina, after the Bombardment. Ruins of the Cathedral of St. John and St. Finbar.” The city after shelling by the Federal Navy and the approach of Sherman’s troops. 1865. Wet plate glass negative, photographer unknown. Available online at: http://www.shorpy.com/node/7440?size=_original
1. In this photograph, a boy sits on the ruined steps of a cathedral in Charleston, South Carolina. The city was bombarded by artillery from ships off the coast. Cannon and shells were launched at the city as part of Sherman’s campaign to raze the state to the ground.
2. My documentary is on the Reconstruction. This photograph fits into this theme because in order to understand the ideals of the Reconstruction, it is necessary to see the damages wrought during the war and how they had dismantled the existence of Southern states and society. While this is an example of physical damage, the boy in the photo could also symbolize a loss of innocence and the psychological damage from having a war fought around one’s home.
3. We decided to include this photograph because in comparison to other photographs that showed the destruction in the South because you can see shreds of what Charleston once was. The Cathedral’s walls still rise in the background. People still, miraculously, are alive. South Carolina was also the “heart” of the Confederacy, so we decided to focus on the reconstruction efforts there.
4. To me, I first thought this photo was mislabeled. It reminded me of pictures of Berlin, Dresden, and London during World War Two. The photograph could very well be something from the middle of this last century and not the one before it. The timelessness makes it feel closer to home. The solitary youth also makes me feel lonely, like the city was abandoned and is sad, like not even her own people came out to defend her. It shows a once grand city on a very questioning moment. The city, and the boy ask, “What will become of me now?”