RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC) - A museum in Richmond is facing a daunting challenge that grows increasingly difficult as each day passes.
A museum that prides itself on its possession and identification of over 6,000 Civil War images and the largest collection of artifacts of Confederate states, the Museum of the Confederacy is charged with identifying two girls in photos found about 150 years ago.
The names of these two girls have remained a mystery since the end of the Civil War. The picture of one of the girls was found between the bodies of two soldiers of opposing sides at Port Royal, Virginia in 1862 and the picture of the second girl was picked from a Union soldier’s bag on a farm not far from Appomattox just days before General Lee’s infamous surrender.
Photography was a new concept during the years of the Civil War, however it was quite a popular trend among soldiers as many of them clutched pictures of loved ones during their time on the battlefield.
The Associated Press reports that it was not uncommon for soldiers to write the names of the persons’ gracing these photographs on the backs, however no such inscriptions were present in this case, rendering these two young girls an unidentified cold case for what could be an eternity.
Anny Drury Wellford, the museum’s curator, told the Associated Press, “We don’t know who they are and the people who picked them up did not know who they were.”
Author of “The Blue and Gray in Black and White: A History of Civil War Photography” Bob Zeller, who also serves as the president of The Center for Civil War Photography, told the AP that finding a photograph on a dead soldier’s possession that had no clear connection to the person was very uncommon.
“Much of it is the unknown factor that the image carries,” Zeller said. “It’s something that everyone cherishes, a photograph of their loved ones, but there it is out on this battlefield with these seemingly nameless, faceless corpses.”
Although it seems unlikely the two girls will be identified after years of obscurity and almost no evidence to go off of, museum officials are releasing the images along with six other photographs in a glimmer of hope that someone might recognize a familial resemblance or make a connection to a battlefield where they were first found.
Only time will tell if this 150 year-old mystery will finally be solved.
You can view the released photographs here.