Thursday, May 13, 2010
The Sunken Road and Captain Russell’s Photograph, Part 2
Shown below is a hand colored postcard mailed from Fredericksburg in October, 1906. This view was taken, looking approximately 338 degrees north west, from a position just below Captain A. J. Russell’s May 1863 camera position, as detailed in my April 27 posting. In the modern view of this location, the position of Russell’s camera is indicated by the red X. As a reminder, Russell's camera was facing south.
Alongside the road, at left, is a monument dedicated in 1888 to Confederate General Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb of Georgia. It was near this location that General Cobb was mortally wounded on December 13, 1862 by an exploding artillery shell. In the one hundred and four years since the postcard was mailed, the Cobb monument has been repositioned slightly and its base has been removed and perhaps lost all together. Initially it sat on top of a short retaining wall on the west side of the road. Portions of that wall are still visible today. It is also evident that when the postcard image was taken, the Stone Wall had already been dismantled in front of the Innis House at right, and the Stephens House, not visible. Tradition says that the artillery shell that wounded General Cobb passed through the Stephens House before exploding, sending an iron fragment into his thigh. The Stephens house burned down in 1913, seven years after this card was mailed. An image of the house, taken in April 1866, is seen below. It was one of the final four images taken by Dr. Bontecou’s entourage as described in my April 14 posting.
On the weekend of August 19-20, 2006, I presented a program sponsored by the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, where I portrayed Captain Russell as he took his image in the Sunken Road. Unfortunately Robert Szabo was not available to join me for that program but he was kind enough to loan me one of his hand built, wet plate cameras.