How do we see war veterans of war? In the US Civil War (1861-1865) Dr Reed Bontecou (1824-1907) used photography to record casualties and broadcast their injuries to a wider audience. Bontecou, who operated out of the 3,000-bed Harewood Army Hospital, Washington, D.C., marked his 2 1/2-by-4-inch Cartes de visite portraits with red ink to show the trajectory of the bullets that caused each wound. The soldiers’ bodies took on the appearance of crime scenes.
Bontecou’s collected albums were used to teach medical personal at Harewood. The pictures became the soldiers’ greatest explicator of their suffering, allowing them to secure better compensation and pensions.
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