Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Seven Pines hospital: Fabulous details in June 1862 image


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George Barnard, whose Seven Pines images were examined in this post, wasn't the only photographer employed by Mathew Brady to photograph that Virginia battlefield in June 1862. James Gibson, who may have been Barnard's supervisor, also shot images there -- including this one of a two-story, frame house used as a hospital by Union General Joseph Hooker's division.  On May 31-June 1, 1862, the armies fought to a draw at Seven Pines (or Fair Oaks), eight miles from Richmond. Among the more than 11,000 casualties was General Joseph E. Johnston, who was severely wounded by a shell fragment and replaced as overall commander of the Rebel army by a man named Robert E. Lee. Enlargements of the TIFF version of this glass-plate image, available on the Library of Congress web site, include fascinating details, many not obvious in the original. ...


... on the second floor, an officer leans toward an open window, apparently peering at the photographer. ...


... while another man on the second floor, his feet propped against the window sill, relaxes with what appears to be a newspaper. Perhaps he read details of George McClellan's Peninsula Campaign, which eventually led Little Mac to change his base or retreat, depending on your perspective.  After a series of Union defeats, McClellan's campaign to take Richmond ended on July 1, 1862, when the Yankees stopped the Rebels at Malvern Hill. (See my interactive panoramas of that fabulously preserved battlefield here.) By mid-August 1862, the Union army had been transported north from Harrison's Landing on the James River, ending its hopes to take the Rebel capital and end the war that year.


... in the far left window on the second floor, two men are partially obscured by tree branches. ...



... behind the house, near a wood line, two soldiers and tents in a Federal camp ...


... with its bayonet attached, this soldier's musket towers above him. Two other muskets, a shovel and a pick ax lean against the house. ...


... perhaps the shovel seen near the doorway was used to dig this grave, probably for a Union soldier. A small fence made of logs surrounds the grave, an unusual treatment and an indication this may have been someone of importance. A pile of freshly turned dirt obscures the headboard, making it impossible to decipher the name, rank or regiment of this man.
(In some Civil War photographs, details are so clear that the names of soldiers can be read on their grave markers. See my posts herehere, here, here and my favorite example here.) After the war, this soldier's remains may have been disinterred and re-buried at Seven Pines National Cemetery. Sadly, the identities of only 141 of the 1,357 soldiers buried there are known.

What else do you see in the image?

7 comments:

  1. Great analysis. Thanks for the post.

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  2. I enjoyed your details of the image. Thank you

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  3. Always looking to see if I can spot any photo of my G.G.Grandfather who was wounded in the battle of Antietam and perhaps treated at Seven Pines..

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  4. I see the shadow of someone sitting behind the tree, plus bullet holes in the tree. Coat hanging in the tree,looks like another person sitting on the right side of the house, a boot pull beside that person, a rickety spit to cook on right side of house, clothes laying about in the dirt, is that someone lying under the tree on the left side of the house?

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  5. my Great Great Great Grandfathers were at the Battles of Donelson,Shiloh,Chichamauga,Atlanta,then were sent back to Kentucky to uard the L&N railroad before he made his March to the Sea.Kentucky Volunteer Regiments 17th and 26th.

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  6. If it was used as a hospital could the 'grave' have been where the amputated arms and legs were buried? It'd be interesting to figure out which regiment is camped there as I'm sure the officers took over the house as quarters after it's nightmare use as a battlefield hospital.

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  7. There are more rifles leaning against the house to the left of the doorway. Thanks for posting, love all the close-up details.

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