Following George N. Barnard at Manassas

James N.

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Photographer George Norman Barnard, left, and two of his assistants, one of which is James L. Gibson, at lunch on the battlefield at Bull Run in march, 1862. At this distance, it's impossible to know exactly which of these men took the photographs featured here.

In the wake of the first major battle of the Civil War, fought between Bull Run and Manassas Junction on July 21, 1861, there had been a great deal of curiosity about the appearance of the battlefield. Noted photographer Matthew Brady had attempted to photograph at least a part of the action during the battle but that effort had turned into a fiasco with Brady losing his what'sit wagon containing his camera and all his photographic supplies in the crush of the hasty Union retreat. Brady himself was forced to make his way back to his Washington, D. C. studio as best he could, with nothing to show for his efforts but a souvenir sword he's pictured wearing in this famous photograph:

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When the Confederates finally retreated from the area of the battlefield in march of the following year, two employees of Brady's Washington studio, George N. Barnard and his assistant James L. Gibson, traveled along with the army of Maj. Gen. George McClellan to at least take photographs of some of the sites of the late battle, some of which will be featured here. It should be remembered that they was working in late winter when all the trees were still bare and the battleground looked different than it did during the battle; also, there there were no unburied dead for Barnard to focus his camera on like Alexander Gardner would do so famously at Antietam and Gettysburg..

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James N.

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The Stone House
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The famous Stone House on the Warrenton Turnpike at its intersection with the Sudley Road was a favorite subject which stood near the center of the battlefield and had served as a hospital during both battles fought here. Today it looks much as it did during the war. (Note: It was impossible to duplicate the exact camera angle here because of modern traffic; I have made little effort to do so in most of what follows for various reasons, and my modern views should be viewed primarily as representations of how the area appears today.)

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The Widow Henry House
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Henry House Hill dominated the battlefield, but the home of Widow Judith Henry who had been killed by a stray shell which struck the house had been damaged so badly that during the subsequent winter it had been torn down by Confederate soldiers for building materials and firewood for their winter huts. It wasn't rebuilt until immediately following the war in an enlarged two-story version which survives today.

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The Robinson House
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This small frame house also stood on the northeast edge of the plateau of Henry Hill and although it survived both battles was also rebuilt after the war.

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This home of a free Negro family named Robinson was ultimately torched by an arsonist in the 1990's and today is only remembered by its foundations.

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According to NPS signage along the trail that encircles the Henry House plateau, the view seen here was taken near the Robinson House and shows the ruins of the Henry House in the distance as indicated on the marker below.

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James N.

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Sudley Springs Ford
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Although no fighting took place here at Sudley Springs or at nearby Sudley Church, the ford here was where over half the Union Army of Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell had crossed Bull Run to arrive on the battlefield. Because it was a noted local landmark, it too drew the attention of George Barnard, who took quite a few photographs in the vicinity. The wooded road leading from the ford is today a park trail below.

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Barnard's view below shows the ford from the opposite side of Bull Run with Sudley Church visible on the hill in the background at right. Note the unfinished bridge abutments in both his photos which can also be seen in the center background of my photo above.

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Below, another view of Bull Run as it appears today.

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Sudley Church
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Although the same photo above is featured on the NPS' signage below, the actual site of the church is out-of-frame at the right because it is completely covered by a modern structure. The church cemetery, however, can be seen in the right background.

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Below, another of Barnard's views shows the same children seen at Sudley Ford with the church on the hill in the background must have been taken near the Thornberry House.

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The Thornberry House
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This small frame house stands alongside what was then the Sudley Road leading from the ford to the crossroads with the Warrenton Turnpike and the Stone House. It is only a short distance south of the ford and across the modern roadway from the site of Sudley Church.

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Additional photos of the Thornberry House as it appears today, after being enlarged post-war.

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Following their visit to Manassas, Barnard and Gibson returned to Brady's studio, but only briefly before beginning their own notable careers as wartime photographers, as did their contemporary Alexander Gardner. Barnard is probably best-known today for the work he did in Georgia, following in the wake of the army of William T. Sherman in his Atlanta Campaign.
 
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bdtex

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Didja happen to visit the Sudley Church Cemetery?
 

James N.

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Didja happen to visit the Sudley Church Cemetery?
No, although there were Confederate dead buried there; we were mainly concentrating in covering the entire NPS Second Bull Run driving tour, and almost made it!
 

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My thanks to @jgoodguy for his assistance in correcting my silly mistakes made by confusing Brady's assistants George Barnard and Alexander Gardner! (And thanks also to anyone else who might've noticed them, but kept quiet about it.)
 

bdtex

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No, although there were Confederate dead buried there; we were mainly concentrating in covering the entire NPS Second Bull Run driving tour, and almost made it!
The force woulda just been too strong for me. :D
 

James N.

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The force woulda just been too strong for me. :D
My main objective was to explore the Deep Cut and Unfinished Railroad bed - I almost lost Mike in the process! We were both dragging after hiking so much of that but mustered strength enough to see the area around the Dogan House, the small Confederate Cemetery, and the New York Monuments. After that, we decided to head back north through Leesburg and Frederick, Md. to Baltimore and its airport for our next-day flights.
 

JPChurch

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Great pics!! Bummer about the Robinson House, that was a big deal here when it got torched by a bunch of punks. A friend of my son's stepfather is distantly related to the Robinson owner that lived there.
 

Malingerer

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My main objective was to explore the Deep Cut and Unfinished Railroad bed - I almost lost Mike in the process! We were both dragging after hiking so much of that but mustered strength enough to see the area around the Dogan House, the small Confederate Cemetery, and the New York Monuments. After that, we decided to head back north through Leesburg and Frederick, Md. to Baltimore and its airport for our next-day flights.
James, your contributions are always a huge addition to the quality of this site. Also, did you maybe command my battalion during the filming of North and South?
 

James N.

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James, your contributions are always a huge addition to the quality of this site. Also, did you maybe command my battalion during the filming of North and South?
Thank you; no - at the time of N&S I was still a humble private.
 

George Thomas

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Great post, I am so glad there are others that love these then vs. now comparisons.
There is another site that is located just off the parking lot to the visitor center.
There is a patch of low rough ground still evident today that matches with this Barnard photo of soldiers' graves around some standing water.

Photo from Library of Congress site, listing the photographer as George N. Barnard, working on behalf of the Brady Gallery, available at https://www.loc.gov/item/2015647570/

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Modern version taken Dec. 2016

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The comparison is also on the cover of Garry Adelman's book:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0978550889/?tag=civilwartalkc-20

In the book, he places the photo of the two children kneeling behind the Sudbury church near modern Featherbed lane. I went over there and checked it out and the slope of the hillside from that angle matches pretty well.
 

James N.

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... There is another site that is located just off the parking lot to the visitor center.
There is a patch of low rough ground still evident today that matches with this Barnard photo of soldiers' graves around some standing water...

Modern version taken Dec. 2016

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I missed that spot, but here's my shot of the section of guns visible in the background of yours:

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