Battlefield Guide Services

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Massaponax Church, VA - Grant Writes a Dispatch - 150 Years Ago Today, To the Hour, In Real-Time - 5/21/2014

     In the late morning of May 21, 1864, Generals Grant and Meade met at the corner of The Massaponax Church Road and the Telegraph Road, known today as the Jefferson Davis Highway, or Route 1. At the Massaponax Church, pews were brought out for the "Council of War" about to take place at this crossroads. In the background of four images, taken from a second floor window by photographer Timothy O'Sullivan, a long train of wagons is passing, many with the emblem of the Union 5th Corps painted on their canvas sides.   Click any image for larger examination.
Timothy O'Sullivan's photograph, Gardner negative # 731, "Council of War": Gen. Ulysses S. Grant writing a dispatch. Approximate Civil War time is 10:47 A.M., based on a modern time of 11:58, for the image below.
Your blog host, sitting at the approximate location of the pew where Grant was seated. 
Taken from ground level, but from a slightly elevated and similarly angled view as O'Sullivan's.
Massaponax Church Road runs behind, intersecting with Route 1, the former Telegraph Road,

Your blog host reads the dispatch assumed to be the one Grant is writing in O'Sullivan's image.

     A fifth image was also taken that morning by O'Sullivan, approximately 45 minutes prior to the "Council of War" series. This view was taken from the eastern side of the intersection, looking approximately west. Members of Meade's headquarters guard, the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry, can be seen mingling amongst the soldiers gathered in the church yard. Based on shadows cast on the front of the church, we can approximate the time this image was taken as 10:00 A.M., Civil War time.
     Today, with adjustments for daylight savings time and railroad time, the modern time is 11:15. Strong shadows seen below the fascia today, are created by  a gutter that did not exist on the structure in 1864.
     An enlargement from Gardner negative # 729 shows the "time stamp" like shadows, on the front of the church. The shadow from the overhang above the fascia covers all but two course of brick above the windows. 
     A modern view taken from up close at 11: 24, demonstrates a slight lengthening of the shadow in the 9 minutes that has passed, as the sun reaches higher in the sky, and diminishing the width of the shadow at right.
     O'Sullivan's camera was positioned in the upper half of this window. The balcony floor can be seen just above the first row of panes on the upper sash.
     The two camera positions, marked by red flags, (A) inside the church, looking south, and (B) on the east side of the intersection, looking westward. Click for larger examination.

No comments: