Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Details, details: Examining 1865 image of Charleston's City Hall

(George Barnard | Library of Congress collection)
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Of all the images taken by Connecticut-born photographer George Barnard in Union-occupied Charleston, S.C., in April 1865, this one of City Hall at the corner of Broad and Meeting streets is my favorite. Cropped enlargements reveal many cool details, such as ...

... these seven Federal soldiers relaxing on a bench in front of the ornate fence and railing to the grand building, constructed in the early 19th century ...

... and in a window on the Meeting Street side of the building (at left), another soldier leans against the sill ...

... while below him at street level, these two Yankees stare at the cameraman. Is that rubble in the foreground a result of the Union navy's frequent shelling of the city?

... and here's a Federal officer under a street lamp.

On the porch of City Hall, a Federal soldier leans against the railing. Note the musket in the background. ...

... while near the right corner of City Hall, a soldier with a musket resting on his shoulder stands near stacked arms.

Damage undoubtedly caused by the Union navy's shelling is apparent to the right of the Meeting street sign ...

... and on Broad Street, a man -- perhaps a Union sailor judging from his attire -- stands near what undoubtedly is more damage caused by the dastardly Yankee navy. Yards away from him another man leans against the building and stares down Broad Street. Perhaps his gaze caught this famous building.

As this Then & Now shows, City Hall survived The Late Unpleasantness, and the war-damaged building was repaired long ago. What else do you see in Barnard's photograph?

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  1. Anonymous8:43 PM

    It seems to say "City Sheriffs Office" above the door behind the officer at the lamppost.

  2. Great shots - but I am intrigued by the lack of foliage on the trees in the 1865 photos. April in South Carolina brings azaleas and greenery (thinking of the Masters)... yet these trees are bare.

  3. Love the image. Looks like broken windows just above the cannon ball damage. I have a circa 1856 Ambrotype of an ancestor taken by George Barnard when he operated a studio in Syracuse. It has Barnard's logo stamped in the mat around the image. The image is encased in a silver case that must have been very expensive. A prized possession of mine. Love your blog.