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Lost 1st Bull Run Campaign photo?

Discussion in 'Period Civil War Photos & Examinations' started by Brendan, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. Brendan

    Brendan Corporal

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    Okay, maybe that was a little sensationalist. But, there may be something intriguing here nonetheless. This NARA image of Fairfax Court House tends to appear with attribution to Timothy O'Sullivan and dated June 1863, but I'm sure that's at least partially incorrect:
    [​IMG]
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fairfax_Court_House,_Va_-_NARA_-_528872.tif

    For comparison, check out this June 1863 O'Sullivan image of the same location and angle:
    [​IMG]
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fairfax_Court_House,_Va_-_NARA_-_530399.tif

    Note that in the 2nd image, the building shows the ravages of wartime occupation--the shutters, fence rails, and the wood frame near the well (a garden plot?) that appear in #1 have been removed, likely for firewood. Also, the lattice above the well and the slats in the cupola are gone. The foliage is also different enough to suggest that there are (at the very least) months between these two images. So...when was #1 taken?

    Here's one clue I found online (via Cowan's auctions):
    [​IMG]

    This CDV of #1 is dated 1862, so the photograph has to be 1861-1862. But when? The lushness of the tress and the appearance of the men pictured says spring or summer to me. But most of Brady's images from that period follow the AoTP during the Peninsula Campaign. Of course, this could have been taken a member of Brady's team. O'Sullivan himself was in VA starting in July 1862. Maybe he returned in '63 and specifically chose the angle for #2 to show the changes wrought by a year of war. Anyway, I'm curious to hear what people think. There are some great details here, and intriguing clues including light (gray?) Union uniforms and some zouaves on the rooftop. Could this have actually been taken by Brady in July 1861 during the Bull Run campaign? It seems far-fetched, but who knows...

    The guy at bottom right screams "Fire Zouave" to me but that's just what I want to believe:

    [​IMG]

    Note the many dark blue trousers (not uncommon for '62 either) and the light, possibly gray uniforms on the right. There's another fellow in what looks like a gray fatigue blouse (8th NY Militia? --okay, I'm reaching) just left of where I cropped it. Also, note the civilians. Brady urged his fellow journalists to wear all white during the 1st Bull Run Campaign (as he himself did), ostensibly to emphasize their "purity" (ha!). Again, just saying:

    [​IMG]

    Like I said, it's probably 1862. But maybe... What do you guys think?
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015

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  3. Brendan

    Brendan Corporal

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    I forgot to add that this courthouse was supposedly ransacked by Union troops in March 1862. Of course, you can't really see the interior of the building in either image, but the presence of all that "spare wood" just sitting intact on and around the exterior doesn't seem consistent with the pillaging and extended occupation that would have taken place by the summer of 1862.
     
  4. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    Notice the fellow just above him pointing - he looks pretty much like a zou-zou too!
     
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  5. major bill

    major bill Major Forum Host

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    There are so many possibilities. Some men on the roof seem to wear fezs, roundabout jackets, and regular trousers. What units at this time were known to wear fezs, roundabout jackets and regular trousers?. What color trousers are the men on the roof wearing? Their trousers appear to be the same color as their jackets, so maybe dark blue trousers. Two men do appear to wear gray. The fact the building lacks damage would seem to rule out them wearing the light blue Invalid Corps uniforms.
     
  6. Brendan

    Brendan Corporal

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    I've been trying to find a better resolution version of this photo of the 8th NY Militia:
    [​IMG]
    Note both the date (July 16th, 1861) and the presence of baggy gray fatigue blouses and (I think) overshirts. The photo shows that at least some Brady images from early in the 1st Bull Campaign survived. McDowell's troops reached Fairfax Court House the day after this image was taken. Some of the uniforms seen here remind me of the man in gray in the previous detail above as well as this guy:
    [​IMG]
    His pocket is about the same level as the 8th NY fellow on the left, and his canteen is similar to the man of the right. Here's another Brady view of the 8 NY (supposedly June '61):
    [​IMG]

    Come on...somebody tell me I'm wrong.
     
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  7. chubachus

    chubachus Sergeant

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    According to Zeller's The Blue and Gray in Black and White: "The Fairfax Court House view is among the lowest numbered of all Civil War stereo views issued by the Anthony Company, the lowest being No. 813. This is the only instance where a contemporary account describing a photograph related to the First Bull Run campaign can be linked to a known image."

    The account is from the American Journal of Photography which mentions that an unnamed Anthony-employed photographer and possibly not Brady's group took photographs at Fairfax Courthouse during the campaign.

    I can't seem to find an Anthony 1861 stereoview version of Fairfax Court House but it looks like someone is selling an anaglyph version on a CD on eBay.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
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  8. Reb

    Reb Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    colored troops in '61?
     
  9. thomas aagaard

    thomas aagaard 2nd Lieutenant

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    Contraband?
     
  10. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    As early as 1861 Union soldiers and even whole units of abolitionist bent took in runaways as "mascots" - sometimes they got away with it, but more often they were forced to turn them over if anyone came to claim them. Naturally this encouraged abolitionist movements and sentiments among those, especially New Englanders, so disposed and also those originally less interested as well. There were no colored troops per se until Ben "Spoons" Butler and "Black Dave" Hunter began to organize them in '62 but these efforts were quickly quashed by the Lincoln administration.
     
  11. tryagain

    tryagain Sergeant

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  12. chubachus

    chubachus Sergeant

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    Recently sold at auction, "Fairfax Court House and its Surroundings. Taken just after the Grand Army passed to fight the battle of Bull Run.":

    fairfax court house 1861.jpg

    Source.
     
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  13. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

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    I agree the trees are different.
     
  14. Brendan

    Brendan Corporal

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    Wuuuut. This is amazing. Thank you!
     

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