Battlefield Guide Services

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Real-Time Tour of Dr. Bontecou's Spotsylvania Photographs - April 13, 2016. Join Us!

National Park Service News Release

For Immediate Release - March 30, 2016

Contact Name: John Hennessy 540-693-3200 x 4010  

Spotsylvania, VA - The National Park Service has announced a special 150th tour—a tour not pegged to a battle, but rather to an effort to photograph Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield just a year after the end of the war. Join photo-historian John Cummings and Chief Historian John Hennessy as they visit the sites of several famous images taken on April 13, 1866, precisely 150 years after those images were taken.

The Story: During the second week April of 1866, United States Army Surgeon Reed Brockway Bontecou traveled to the former battlefields around Fredericksburg. Bontecou collected medical specimens (some still survive), but most importantly brought along a photographic team from the Surgeon General’s Office in Washington, D.C. Moving over the area battlefields, the group created a series of 121 stereo images on glass negatives showing a landscape ravaged by war. The views include famous images taken on the morning of April 13, 1866, at the Bloody Angle, the McCoull farm, and of Laurel Hill at Spotsylvania.

The Tour: On Wednesday morning, April 13, we will follow the footsteps of Bontecou and his photographer as the sun moves across the sky and the shadows shift with the passage of time. Learn about these powerful images that today give us the most vivid look at Spotsylvania’s wartime appearance. Mr. Cummings has done years of research and field work on these images.

Meet at the Bloody Angle Stop parking lot, Tour Stop 3 on the Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield. The program will start promptly at 9:30. The tour will include just under 2.5 miles of walking across mostly gentle terrain, along established trails. Bring water and snacks. The tour will conclude about noon.


Russ Edwards said...

Sounds like an interesting event, definitely will try an make it.

Unknown said...

I'm in Alabama and due to physical impairments can't travel to this event. Have you folks thought about having a small crew or even just one person follow along and film this tour? I'd gladly buy a copy to support whatever the monies would go toward.

Wish we had tours of the photographic images filmed at all the Battlefields and the Peninsula Campaign, etc.

Certainly wish I could be there as I've never been to Spotslyvania.

Decatur, Alabama

Todd Berkoff said...

You need to do a weekend tour next time. Have fun guys!

John Cummings said...

Todd, our scheduling was made to coincide with the actual date and time the images were taken 150 years before. If April 13 was to have fallen on Saturday this year, that would have been great, but in being true to what we are presenting I thought it best to present in real-time. Besides, I have an event in Gettysburg on Saturday :) Ones does what one has to do. Thanks for the note. I look forward to seeing you sometime soon. It has been far too long since we've been on the field.

Peter Kolakowski said...

This was a fantastic tour. John, your enthusiasm and knowledge had me learn a lot. I sense the crowd on the tour felt the same. Also John Hennessey's comments brought additional context to your commentary. A great program. Thanks for sharing your time and research. I look forward to your book. - Pete Kolakowski

Todd Berkoff said...

No worries. On a side note, I believe Theodore Lyman's post-war visit to Spotsylvania coincidentally happened during the same month as when these series of photos were April 1866. As you know, Lyman documented this trip, chronicling the debris of war two years after the battles.

John Cummings said...

Todd, Lyman was a day behind Bontecou. It would have been nice if they had crossed paths.