Saturday, August 05, 2017

Chancellorsville Then & Now: Stonewall Jackson wounding site

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Stonewall Jackson
On May 2, 1863, Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded by friendly fire during the Battle of Chancellorsville, site of his greatest triumph. Nearly three years after the calamity that rocked the Confederacy, George Oscar Brown photographed the scene, part of an extensive series of photos of central Virginia battlefields he took during a U.S. Army medical expedition. The caption on the April 1866 stereoview,  the earliest known image of the Jackson wounding site, notes the general was shot to the left of the two men who appear at the center of the photo. Dr. Reed Bontecou, who led the expedition for the U.S. Army Medical Museum, is believed to be at the far left. (For more on Bontecou, see John Cummings' fine Spotsylvania Civil War blog here.)

This previously unknown Brown stereoview -- the right half appears above -- was purchased by a private collector on eBay in November 2016. (How did I miss it?!!!) Note the plank road at the far right of the 1866 image. Very cool.

On a mid-March afternoon, a certain Civil War blogger dodged traffic on ridiculously busy Route 3 -- the war-time Orange Plank Road -- to shoot a present-day view of the scene. The result is a representative but not spot-on "Now" photo. The shooting site, marked in 1888 by a monument near the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitors' Center, is no longer visible to motorists who pass by.

The existence of Brown's Jackson wounding site image was first reported by Bob Zeller, president and co-founder of the Center for Civil War Photography, in the organization's Battlefield Photographer magazine. (Consider joining the CCWP. Full disclosure: I am secretary-treasurer.) 

Grab the slider to toggle from the "Then" to "Now" image. For a large-format version of this Then & Now, visit my Civil War photo blog here.

A cropped enlargement of Brown's image shows the planks on the old Orange Plank Road.
Post-war image by George Oscar Brown of the Orange Plank Road and Mountain Road intersection.
Jackson is believed to have been shot at the far right or farther down the road,
 out of view of the camera. (Library of Congress | CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)
An 1890 painting of the Jackson wounding site. The monument was added in 1888.
 (Library of Congress)
An early view of the Jackson wounding monument, date unknown. The monument is no longer 
surrounded by a fence. (Library of Congress)
                  GOOGLE STREET VIEW: Explore an August 2016 view of the scene.

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  1. Those two photos are dead on, no funny stuff intended. I like the “paved" area to the right in the 1866 photo.

  2. Is the Jackson wounding site being protected from the Maoists attempting to destroy all monuments to Confederates?

    1. What's a Maoist?

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.