Saturday, January 23, 2016

Then & Now: Charleston (S.C.) City Hall survives destruction

Beginning in late 1863, Union artillery pounded Charleston, S.C., destroying chunks of the historic port city that had survived a massive fire in December 1861. After the capture of Charleston shortly before the war ended, Connecticut-born photographer George Barnard shot images of ruins as well as photographs of the grand architecture that remained. By the end of the war, the 45-year-old photographer was a veteran of the conflict -- he had shot images throughout Virginia as well as with Sherman's army in Tennessee and during its capture of Atlanta and its infamous March To The Sea.

Among Barnard's subject matter in Charleston in April 1865 was City Hall at 80 Broad Street, a short distance from the harbor and Fort Sumter, where the death and destruction started four years earlier. As Barnard trained his bulky, glass-plate camera on the beautiful, early 19th-century building, Union soldiers gathered on the portico and on a bench near steps leading to the entrance. Bricks were missing near a window, perhaps evidence of Yankee shellfire striking the building that remains a landmark today.

The present-day photo comes from a Google Street View camera shooting from a position almost identical to Barnard's Civil War spot. Per usual, I used the excellent, free Juxtapose tool for the Then & Now comparison. For all the Civil War Then & Now images on my blog, click here.

In an enlargement of Barnard's image of Charleston City Hall, Union soldiers gather on the portico
and in front of the beautiful building. Note the missing bricks near the window at left, 
perhaps evidence of a Union artillery hit.
A Civil War-era stereoview of  Charleston City Hall, which survived destruction.
(Library of Congress)

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