Thursday, March 24, 2011
Note: All images can be clicked for larger viewing.
Certainly, any battlefield photograph that shows the dead in situ has intrigued the public ever since Mathew Brady first displayed images of the dead of Antietam at his New York gallery in October 1862.
Another image in the series, taken prior to the one above, depicts two of the Confederate dead nearby on the property. The soldier immediately behind the pile of fence rails is clearly the same body as the one on the stretcher as was indicated by William Frassanito in his 1983 book, Grant and Lee, The Virginia Campaigns, 1864-1865.
A long overlooked yet vital clue as to the relationship of this image and the one of the Alsop house, is seen in the upper right of the horizon line. There, though not in sharp focus, appears to be the west exposure of the Alsop house, along with the surrounding trees that are readily discernible from the full house image.
An enlarged detail of that portion of the photograph shows the
open window at right, and the surrounding trees of the home's western
face, making this approximately 80 yards to the east of these bodies.
Based on this hypothesis, here are "then and now" comparisons.
Set One: Looking East From "A"
Set Two: Looking North East From "B"
Over at the F&SNMP's "unofficial" blog Mysteries and Conundrums, Chief Historian John Hennessy has recently weighed in on his interpretation of the Alsop Farm images. You can read that here, at this link.
A satellite image of the area involved as it looked in 2009.
Note: The roads seen in this view are modern driveways with no historical significance,
and have no correlation with the farm lanes I have indicated in my diagram.
BE AWARE: all of this property is privately owned.
Please respect the owner's right to privacy.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
In preparation for the fiftieth anniversary of the National Park Service in 1966, the Department of the Interior implemented a ten-year program of enhancement projects designed to improve the visitor experience. The program was dubbed "Mission 66." Among these tasks were the construction of modern interpretive facilities, replacing the rustic Contact Stations of the CCC era. In the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, two new Visitor Centers and three Exhibit Shelters would be constructed to coincide with the anniversaries of the battles they'd interpret. The Chancellorsville Visitor Center was set to open on the first weekend in May, 1963. By July of that year, construction was underway for an exhibit shelter on the Grant Drive entrance to the Spotsylvania unit. By the end of April, 1964, the shelter was nearing completion, in plenty of time for the hundredth anniversary of the Spring Campaign of 1864.
This September 1963 photograph documents the pouring of the concrete floor and patio of the Spotsylvania Shelter. It was built on a substantial cinder block foundation with brick walls and a heavy steel framework that emulated residential architecture of the day. The roof had four skylights to provide additional ambient light to the open air design.
Approximate same view in February 2011.
Prior to the installation of wire mesh to the open gable ends of the rafter
system, workers are seen here applying a clear sealer coating to the
natural wood ceiling planks inside the interpretive area.
Over time, the natural wood look was replaced by a heavy coating of
white paint, providing durability and easier maintainance. Note the
skylight and wire mesh enclosed gable end.
and more engaging graphics installed around 2004. There is a continuing
effort to enhance the visitor experience. Photo taken February 22, 2011.
Peder Kitti and Frank Philips of the Department of the Interior's Branch
of Museums, prepare hardware for the mounting of the interpretive panels.
They were assisted by Freddie Paytes of the F&SNMP maintenance department.
Note the accordian style, gate enclosure for the shelter, rarely if ever, used today.
Approximate same view, February 2011.
The one-hundredth anniversary of the National Park Service will be celebrated in 2016.
Black and white photographs seen here are from the files of the F&SNMP.
Color photographs copyright 2011 by John F. Cummings III