Sunday, May 01, 2016

Then & Now: Baptist church-turned-hospital in Fredericksburg

A cropped enlargement of  James Gardner's image
 reveals  broken windows. The church
was heavily damaged during the war.
Like this blog on Facebook.

After an outstanding lunch at Sammy T's -- thanks for the advice, John Cummings -- I went into full Civil War nerd mode on Tuesday in Fredericksburg, Va. Lugging my time-worn copy of William Frassanito's excellent book, Grant And Lee: The Virginia Campaigns, 1864-1865for comparison purposes, I aimed to shoot "Now" versions of sites photographed in the area in May 1864. In a parking lot across the street from the historic Baptist Church on Princess Anne Street, I received sideways glances during attempts to replicate the image James Gardner took of the church on May 20, 1864.

Like many buildings in Fredericksburg, the Baptist church, which suffered severe damage during the Union's artillery bombardment of the town on Dec. 11, 1862, became a Federal hospital as casualties poured into town from the war-ravaged surrounding area. When Gardner shot the image, wounded from battles at Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse and elsewhere probably were being treated there.

Cropped enlargements of Gardner's image show a church peppered with damage inflicted by the Union army. The steeple appears riddled and many of the windows are broken. (Even several years ago, war damage to the steeple remained extensive, according to this terrific post on the National Park Service's Mysteries & Conundrums blog.)

Because of the inadequacies of the "Now" photographer, valuable information was cropped out of Gardner's original image, which you can view here on the Library of Congress web site. The Baptist Church, by the way, remains an active congregation.

For all the Then & Now images on my blog, go here.

War damage to the steeple and elsewhere may be seen in this cropped enlargement.

1 comment: