Sunday, January 24, 2016

Then & Now: A damaged house in war-torn Fredericksburg

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As the map in this post on the excellent Mysteries & Conundrums blog shows, scores of buildings were damaged in Fredericksburg, Va., during the Civil War. Union artillery bombarded the town in December 1862, causing significant damage, and Yankees later ran amok, pillaging houses and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Fanny White, who lived on Charles Street, described the devasation wrought by the Union army after it retreated on Dec. 15, 1862.
"What a scene met our eyes! Our pretty garden was strewn with cannon balls and pieces of broken shells, limbs knocked off the trees, and the grape arbor a perfect wreck. The house had been damaged considerably; several large holes were torn through it, both front and back. One [of our] rooms was piled more than halfway to the ceiling with feathers from beds ripped open, every mirror had been run through with a bayonet, a panel of each door cut out, furniture nearly all broken up, the china broken to bits, and everything of value taken away…"
For a visual example, see the left image at the top of this post, a cropped enlargement of a photograph taken in May 1864 by James Gardner. The duplex at 132-34 Caroline Street suffered significant damage during fighting in December 1862. An enlargement of the May 1864 image (below) shows what appear to be two Yankee soldiers on the roof of the porch while another man, perhaps another soldier, peers from a large window that appears to be missing several panes.

The Caroline Street duplex  also includes other evidence the Federal army long ago passed through: soldiers' graffiti. As the excellent Mysteries & Conundrums blog notes, there are plenty of other such examples in houses, churches and other buildings throughout the Fredericksburg area. See here, here and here.

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

An enlargement of James Gardner's May 1864 image shows what appear to be two 
Yankee soldiers on the porch roof while another man, presumably another soldier, peers
 through a second-floor window. 


  1. I am from PA and am generally pro-Union in my feelings and remarks, however it truly was a horrible disgrace what the Northern Army wrought upon the town of Fredericksburg during that campaign...And not only what the soldiers did but what their commanders allowed them to do...This was compounded of course by Burnside's folly in attacking Marye's Heights the following day...All in all a complete and utter disaster for both the army and Fredericksburg....Perhaps the result of the battle was a kind of Karma for the acts of the Army of the Potomac?

  2. John these "then & now" photos are fascinating. Thank-you. I am from NZ and am pro-Confederate and am engrossed in the Civil War.