U.S. Colored troops at Petersburg.

Robert Gray

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 24, 2012
Part of the Federal line of earthworks showing bombproof quarters occupied by U.S. Colored Troops in front of Petersburg, Va., August 7, 1864. Photos by Timothy H. O'Sullivan.

(Library of Congress)

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Lubliner

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I have never seen these pictures before. Good find. It looks as if many of the men are listening or watching some firefight further up and closer to the front. Really neat pictures. Thanks,
Lubliner.
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
I have never seen these pictures before. Good find. It looks as if many of the men are listening or watching some firefight further up and closer to the front. Really neat pictures. Thanks,
Lubliner.
If you go to the LOC site, you can blow the photographs up and see incredible detail, it is obvious from looking at the photo in detail that the photographer staged some of the scene. There is a group of soldiers in light marching order with bayonets fixed pointing towards the front, one is actually aiming his musket towards the front. This is basically a camp scene, with the front line farther away where the trenches are located. No doubt O'Sullivan wanted the public to think these were the front lines. I can't say for sure, but the area in the third picture appears to be a latrine/sinks.

Great find and wonderful pictures I had not seen these before and there is so much to learn from them!
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
These were most likely USCT of the 9th Corps and if so on that date they would have been very close to the Crater after the failed attempt to breach the Southern lines days before. The only creek along those lines would be Poor Creek, just supposition, but the wooden bridge is part of a road complex that would allow the free movement of troops and supplies to the front.

Putting all of this together I believe the following Google shots approximate the site today with the arrow pointing to the area of the Crater:

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As one can see, the only road extant at the time of the siege, in this area is Baxter Rd, which became Rte 460
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Area and angle of 1864 photograph "maybe".
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Lubliner

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
@Package4 I did notice in the second picture the man sitting on the bridge, which looks like one of O'Sullivan's assistants. In your two posts, the first you say is a staged camp scene some distance away from the front. The second post sounds as though that same scene is close to the crater. Wouldn't this be close to the front lines at that time?
Thanks,
Lubliner.
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
@Package4 I did notice in the second picture the man sitting on the bridge, which looks like one of O'Sullivan's assistants. In your two posts, the first you say is a staged camp scene some distance away from the front. The second post sounds as though that same scene is close to the crater. Wouldn't this be close to the front lines at that time?
Thanks,
Lubliner.
My point being that O’Sullivan was trying to make people believe that these pictures were actually the front lines. They are actually bomb-proof sleeping quarters and the front is farther away and certainly not safe enough to set up a camera.

The full picture of what I believe is Poor Creek, shows tentage on the other side of the creek. There was no action in this area from the battle of the Crater (July 30) until August 14, other than continual sniping.

You are correct that the front was not too terribly far away, but if something was actually taking place, rifle would not be stacked and uniforms would be on. I believe that O’Sullivan wanted pictures of USCT since they were all the talk of the newspapers after the Crater and camp scenes were not what sells. You can almost see the evolution in the series.

Just my humble opinion.
 

FenianPirate

Private
Joined
Jul 12, 2015
Location
Rocklin, CA
@Package4 I did notice in the second picture the man sitting on the bridge, which looks like one of O'Sullivan's assistants. In your two posts, the first you say is a staged camp scene some distance away from the front. The second post sounds as though that same scene is close to the crater. Wouldn't this be close to the front lines at that time?
Thanks,
Lubliner.
 

Robert Gray

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 24, 2012
It should be pointed out that no photographers were permitted to work near the front lines during the siege of Petersburg. It was only after the Army of Northern Virginia pulled out that the outer fortifications were visited.
 
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