WAY WE WERE: Hold that pose

The soldiers at Camp Hancock, outside Augusta, position themselves to form a patriotic image in 1918.

You are looking at a lot of people being very still in Augusta, Ga.


There are more than 22,000 of them, forming a patriotic image on the parade ground at what was then the Camp Hancock Army base near today’s Daniel Field.

They are part of one of one of the most unique exercises in military discipline and public patriotism in American history - the “Living Photographs” of Illinois -based photographers Arthur Mole and John D. Thomas.

The two traveled the country taking advantage of military bases because they could provide a large number of men who could follow orders to complete their images.

The set-up would take about a week and the challenge was trying to determine the perspective of the desired image, which was taken from an angle by a camera some 80 feet in the air.

According to written accounts of the logistics, Mole and his associates would use a megaphone, body language, and a pole with a flag at its end to configure their giant patterns, which they would mark out on the ground with miles of lace edging.

When complete, it usually took several hours to get the men marched into position.

Sometimes there were problems.

While trying to direct about 18,000 troops into position to form “Lady Liberty” at Camp Dodge, Iowa, soldiers wearing heavy uniforms began to faint in the 105-degree July heat.

The images Mole and Thomas produced are still amazing. While these men at Camp Hancock made a machine gun insignia, soldiers at Camp Dix , N.J., formed a Liberty Bell. At Camp Gordon, then in Atlanta, the created a giant American eagle. The Statue of Liberty and Uncle Sam also made appearances.

At Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio, they even formed a profile of President Woodrow Wilson … with autograph.

The big picture business seems to have faded after that. Mole died in Florida in 1983 at age 93.

Learn more about Camp Hancock


The Augusta Museum of History now offers an online exhibition on Camp Hancock and World War I in Augusta.




Fri, 01/19/2018 - 17:23

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