Saturday, April 2, 2011
A Look at Lincoln's April 8, 1863 Review of the Troops in Stafford County: By Request
In January and early February, NPS historian Noel Harrison made two in depth posts at Mysteries and Conundrums, the first here, and the later one here. Noel and I exchanged thoughts regarding the location of the sketch by newspaper artist Alfred Waud, seen below. Please read the articles over at Mysteries and Conundrums to get the whole gist of this discussion. In February, Noel graciously asked if I would post more details on my thought process of interpretation via the Spotsylvania Blog, so now, after many other distractions have been dealt with, I will now provide my thoughts on what I believe we are seeing in this image. First, I have to point out that I hold Alfred Waud in high regard as an artist and firmly stand by his abilities to translate what he saw to paper, especially with regard to landscapes as will be the strongest part of my argument here.
At this point, to avoid repetition, I will simply use the images below to provide my premise. The first image is the original Waud sketch. Please click on any image presented here for larger viewing.
Waud's sketch had to have been drawn from an elevation such as a signal tower near headquarters. Waud was not in the habit of presenting false, elevated views such as those Edwin Forbes was inclined to do in his work.
The sheer number of troops involved in this presentation would have required them to be formed by Divisions, in columns of Brigades. If they had been formed with an entire Division front, each front would have stretched about a mile in length based on mid war regimental strengths. A mile long line could not have moved in a graceful parade formation with any ease, as was described and praised in accounts of this review for the President.
Relative placement of modern roads against Waud sketch.
Satellite image indicating roads and landmarks relative to Waud sketch. The blue lines seen along Deacon Road demonstrate the Divisions formed by columns of Brigades. A newspaper account describes the area as having been cleared of most trees for the occasion as well as the bridging of water obstacles. This facilitated the fluid movement of the large masses of troops. The Review could not have been conducted in a smaller area than what is presented here. These observations are important toward the historical understanding of the site, otherwise lost within the residential development that has covered the once larger tracts.
Please do enlarge this one so that the annotations are legible.
View across the modern neighborhood from the yellow X indicated above.
Closer view of hill at left from which the Lincoln entourage watched the
review, as indicated in the satellite image by the green X.