Thursday, February 07, 2019

Morton's Ford (Va.) Then & Now: The amazing Alfred Waud

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From renowned Culpeper County (Va.) historian Clark "Bud" Hall:

Yesterday, while out at Morton's Ford with off-duty sheriff's deputies, I took along the real-time sketch Alfred Waud crafted on Feb. 6, 1864, depicting Federal soldiers in attack ranks straddling Morton's Ford Road -- while hunkering down in front of the Dr. George Morton House (destroyed by the war).

Alfred Waud, Civil War sketch artist.
Waud "captioned" this drawing, "Scene at the late reconnaissance at Morton's Ford/night."

So we strolled up to the same knoll whereupon Alfred Waud sketched this dramatic scene, and you can herein observe the dead-on comparison.

Now, Waud was sketching his scene from atop a horse and I am 5-9, so I didn't achieve as much of the eastern background, as did Waud. But I will soon go back and take another photo while standing in the bed of my pick-up -- an inelegant substitute, to be sure, for Waud's steed.

As we all know, Waud possessed the uncanny ability to precisely craft a scene wherein the supporting terrain is represented as equally significant as the subject of the presentation -- for which we thank him. And you will notice that even in the waning light, Waud was able to accurately depict the moderate swale in front of the house, and the proper location of the distant background, and ford road.

General G.K. Warren visited this precise location in the early evening of Feb. 6 and conferred with Alexander Hays, and others. Is that Warren in Waud's scene? Probably. (He almost got killed here, but that's another story.)

And I don't need to point out the obvious, but will do so, anyway:

Alfred Waud sketched this scene -- like the sketch at St. James Plateau, June 9 at Brandy Station -- when the bullets were flying! Yet, he remained solid, and performed his duty.

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