Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Crimean War Photographs

I mentioned that there were photographs of the Crimean War. These are in fact some of the earliest photographs of war and were taken by Roger Fenton in 1855 He was sent to the Crimea by Prince Albert in an attempt to alter public opposition to the war and was told before he departed for the frontline: "No dead bodies."

Conveniently, the Library of Congress has a set of 263 of the 360 photographs Fenton took and you can view these at their website. Fenton's photograph of the 'Valley of the Shadow of Death' is probably the most famous but if you scan through all the images one thing really strikes you - the amazing facial hair!

I looked it up and a mustache was compulsory in the British Army until 1916! Actually that's not strictly true - army regulations forbade the shaving of the upper lip which isn't quite the same as making mustaches compulsory even though the outcome is very similar!

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