Saturday, January 23, 2016

Then & Now: Robert E. Lee's wartime house in Richmond

Another view of Robert E. Lee's house on 707 East Franklin Street in Richmond. This image
was taken in April 1865 by an unknown photographer. (Library of Congress)
This iconic image of Robert E. Lee was taken on the back 
porch of the general's house in Richmond 
by Mathew Brady on April 20, 1865.
(Library of Congress)
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After the fall of Richmond to the Union army in early April 1865, the house of the defeated leader of the Rebel army became a destination for the conquerors. A Yankee soldier may have even defaced Robert E. Lee's house at 707 East Franklin Street with the word "Devil," which can be seen in an enlargement of the famous image of the general taken on his back porch by Mathew Brady on April 20, 1865.  (For an account of Brady's photographs of Lee in Richmond, click here. Check out the excellent Center for Civil War Photography site for a story on the 2006 discovery of graffiti on the Lee house.)

After they were forced to flee their confiscated mansion in Arlington, Va., the Lees briefly rented this three-story, red-brick house that was built in 1844. As the Then & Now images show, the area surrounding the Lees' former house has changed greatly since the Civil War. (Check out the man, probably a soldier, in the far right of the 1865 image.) Taken from a slightly different angle than the original, the present-day photograph is a cropped version of a Google Street View image. The excellent, easy-to-use Juxtapose tool makes the cool comparison possible.

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

An enlargement of the famous Lee image taken in Richmond reveals the word "Devil," perhaps
the work of a mischievous Union soldier, scrawled on the brick.

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