Monday, June 10, 2013
One hundred and fifty years ago yesterday, over 17 thousand horsemen clashed near Culpeper, Virginia at Brandy Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. This would result in a day long struggle, becoming the largest cavalry engagement on the western hemisphere, leaving 1,430 killed, wounded, missing, and captured. Above, the view looks northwest, toward the site of the 12th Virginia Cavalry's advance against the right flank of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Click on this, and any image for a larger examination.
The 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry charges across the open field towards Confederate artillery massed near Saint James Church. From a newspaper sketch by Alfred Waud, in the July 4, 1863 issue of Harper's Weekly. The entire issue can be examined visiting a link by clicking here.
The site of the Saint James Church, dismantled by Union soldiers
for building materials during the winter encampment after Gettysburg.
Site of the left flank of Confederate artillery positioned on the Saint James Church ridge, looking east.
The only historical marker on the battlefield prior to advances by battlefield preservationists.
Twenty-three years earlier, in June 1990, Brian Pohanka spoke at a Brandy Station Foundation rally on Fleetwood Hill. Seen in the left background, in the red stripe blouse, is preservationist Annie Snyder of Manassas battlefield fame. Both are now departed, but the battle for hallowed ground continues.
The Henry Miller House, on Fleetwood Hill. Here seen as Union 3rd Corps headquarters in
the spring of 1863. Notice the large patches of snow still visible on the ground.
Fleetwood Hill today. The focus of a current fund raising campaign by the Civil War Trust. The Miller house stood just to the left of the modern structure, based on Civil War era maps. Confederate General Jeb Stuart maintained his headquarters on the lawn, just to the right of the modern house.
"Farley", the home of Dr. William Welford, situated on the northwest extreme of the battlefield. Virginia cavalrymen swept across the property late in the day, pressing a weary Union force back toward the Rappahanock River crossing at Beverly's Ford. During the winter of 1863/1864, Union Sixth Corps commander, John Sedgwick made his headquarters here. It was photographed in March 1864.
Image from the collection of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Today, Farley has been beautifully restored and is maintained as a private residence.
General John Sedgwick stands at front center with members of his staff. Photographed March 1864.
Image from the collection of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
On the east lawn of Farley, Sixth Corps staff officers gathered in front of a temporary winter hut.Image from the collection of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
The same view as it appears today. The armies have gone, and peace is on the land.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
July 6th will be here before you know it, and with it will come the 150th anniversary of the taking of the famed "A Harvest of Death" and its stereo companion version, #242 from Alexander Gardner's catalog: "Evidence of how severe the contest had been on the right at the Battle of Gettysburg."
Below, is a full print from the original glass negative in the collection of the Library of Congress. "242" is scratched in the center, along the line of the septum that separated the two lenses in the body of the camera. This negative is what would have been used to create the two 3" X 3" prints for the stereo card Gardner offered. The current condition of the negative shows both damage from poor storage conditions, as well as emulsion deterioration, and a large, white area along the top of the right hand side when prints are made from it.
The link to that posting can be found by clicking here. However, as we see here, the right half of the negative, mounted to the left when published to create the stereo effect, does present the false horizon line, created by the masking. This is clearly an effort by Gardner to make his stereo version appear similar to the full plate version. We can also see how poor the overall image is compared to the beautiful and contrasting images otherwise produced by Gardner. Image courtesy of Garry Adelman.
Below is a further cropping, presented as a positive, of the two sides closely approximating the hand trimmed prints on the published stereo view. The white arrow on the left side points to the line created by the masking. Note the dark area to the right of center, as well as the extreme right. Click on the images for larger viewing. Compare that to the published card, leaving no doubt that this is indeed the original negative used to create catalog # 242. This also proves that the white blemishes damaged the negative at a point after the intitial 1863 publication of the stereo card.
Below, I have sized the published images to compare to the negatives above. Courtesy Garry Adelman.
Below, I have upped the contrast of the LOC images to provide greater detail, both as a positive, and negative. The blemishes compare to those on the more contrasting print seen earlier.
Below, the actual glass negative for #242, shown emulsion side down. The masking is applied to the non emulsion side. Photo courtesy of Carol Johnson, Curator of Photography, Library of Congress.ourtesy of Carol Johnson, Curator of Photography, Library of Congress.
Below, a close up of the paper masking material glued to the original negative. Photo courtesy of Carol Johnson, Curator of Photography, Library of Congress.ourtesy of Carol Johnson, Curator of Photography, Library of Congress.
As discussed in previous posts, we can now see that unexplained issues plagued Gardner and his crew during the production of the southward images, both full plate and stereo, during the July 6 shooting of the "Harvest of Death" series. In both instances, perhaps direct sun, and possible chemistry issues, the horizon and sky would not photograph appreciably, something that did not occur when photographing the same bodies in the near opposite direction, creating the image, "Field Where General Reynolds Fell", as seen in the prior posting available by clicking here.
Above, the full plate version of "Harvest of Death" with the extensive mimicking of the false horizon line. The artistic modification of the upper third of the image has been detailed previously in this blog at the following link: click here.
The actual location and true horizon line as seen in October of 2012, along Reynolds Avenue South.
Further details from my prior on-site investigation can be found at the following link: click here.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Behind a Charles Street warehouse, Fredericksburg, Virginia. Wounded soldiers of the Union Sixth Corps, May 20, 1864. Obstructions at the location today severely limit the scope of a then and now comparison, thus the radical degree of cropping from the original exposure, seen below, by James Gardner.
Below, taken diagonally northeast across a former courtyard from the above scene, the Fredericksburg Baptist Church on Princess Anne Street. The courtyard today serves as a parking lot for local merchants. This composite photograph illustrates a car occupying this precise location, seemingly drawing the attention of the 1864 onlookers. What an experience that would be. Where is Marty McFly?
Saturday, May 4, 2013
All photographs copyright 2013 by John F. Cummings III
Friday, May 3, 2013. The village of Spotsylvania Courthouse is preparing to host a rather large-scale, commemorative reenactment of the Battle of Chancellorsville for the 150th Anniversary. The scale of the event is immense. Traffic into the region is anticipated to be very heavy, with tens of thousands of spectators anticipated over the two day event. Meanwhile, on the actual Chancellorsville battlefield, about six miles directly north of this site, the National Park Service has been hosting wonderful tours and interpretive programs.
Your blog host will be on hand with camera at the ready. We shall see what we shall see.
Mounted troops recon the countryside.
Military musicians of all ages gather to entertain the troops.
Huge camps begin to cover the landscape. This one is right to next to a Spotsylvania Battlefield,
National Park Service border, near Burnside Drive and Route 208. The open field is NPS property.
"Union" camping area is separated from the NPS property by this gravel road put in place for the event.
In a wedge of land recently created by the Courthouse Bypass, an artillery page has moved in.
With perhaps four thousand re-enactors now expected to attend, this will be the largest gathering of the blue and gray on this ground since May 1864. It will be an interesting weekend to say the least.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Thursday, May 2, marked the 150th anniversary of Stonewall Jackson's famed Flank March as well as his accidental mortal wounding by the 18th North Carolina Infantry. Stevenson Ridge and the Friends of the Fredericksburg Area Battlefields marked this Sesquicentennial moment by presenting their second annual Civil War symposium. Forty-five registered attendees and others convened in the basement meeting room of the Riddick House, an 1812 Plantation House moved to the site from Como, North Carolina in 2003.
Guest speakers at this year's event included, Daniel T. Davis, Chris Mackowski and Kris White, all up and coming historians and noted bloggers from the collective, Emerging Civil War, which features a stable of writers. Mackowski and White have recently coauthored a long awaited volume on the battle of Second Fredericksburg, entitled Chancellorsville's Forgotten Front, published by Savas Beatie, and released just this month.
Next year's symposium will cover the 150th anniversary of the battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. Check back in the next few months for dates and times. We have already begun to assemble our lineup of speakers. It promises to be exciting.
Be sure to visit the Stevenson Ridge website as well for information on overnight accommodations and special event facilities.
Daniel T. Davis, Chris Mackowski, and Kristopher White
Kristopher White explained the battle of Second Fredericksburg in captivating detail.
Daniel T. Davis demonstrated the importance of Stoneman's Raid to the Union Cavalry's evolution.
Chris Mackowski transported the audience through the last days of Stonewall Jackson.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
All photos by Julie Raflo. Copyright 2008, 2013.
On May 3rd and 4th, 2008, the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville was commemorated on the actual ground where the opening engagement had occurred on May 1, 1863. The site had recently become one of battlefield preservation's greatest victories. A coalition of local and national organizations had come together to campaign against a Northern Virginia developer that was seeking a rezoning of the property. The proposed "Town of Chancellorsville" was offering 2,000 homes and 2.2 million square feet of retail and office space on 781 acres along Route 3, the historic Orange Turnpike. The debate became a national concern with a press conference by he Civil War Preservation Trust in July 2002. The collective efforts of the "Chancellorsville Coalition" tirelessly campaigned against the threat. Finally, in March 2003, the rezoning request was denied by the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors.
Five years later, the largess of the Civil War Preservation Trust, in cooperation with the Spotsylvania County Government, and Tricord Homes, permitted the commemorative event seen here, acted out in the very footsteps of the soldiers engaged in 1863. It was a rare opportunity for the reenactment community to hold such an event on the very ground where history happened. Click any of the pictures for larger viewing.
Today, the property is open to visitors as the First Day at Chancellorsville site. An extensive trail system, with detailed interpretive signage, vividly presents the drama of the engagement. Visit the Civil War Trust's animated map of the opening battle by clicking here.