Plate 5. Fortifications on Heights of Centreville

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Text and photograph from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, Vol. II. Negative by Barnard & Gibson, text and positive by Alexander Gardner.
After the first Battle of Bull Run, the Confederates extended their earthworks from Manassas across Bull Run, and along the ridge of Centreville. The works shown in the photograph were constructed near the village of Centreville, and, by the topography of the surrounding country, were rendered almost impregnable to assault. In front the fields sloped down to a stream about five hundred yards distant, along which grew dense thickets of vines, underbrush, and thorn bushes. Beyond were forests, which had been leveled, in order to perfect the range of the artillery, the fallen trees forming a barrier through which it would be impossible to move a line of troops. The Confederates never had any guns heavier than twelve pounders in these works, it being extremely difficult to move any other artillery than field batteries to this line. Redoubts, lunettes, and rifle-pits were so constructed as to command each other; and to render any portion of the works, if captured by an assaulting column, untenable. In the rear of these defences [sic], on the western slope of the ridge, the Confederates had their cantonments.
The view from the crest of the works was very fine. To the east was a wide area of undulating country, covered with dense woods, and with grassy hill-sides, here and there smiling to each other over the forests. Looking west the eye rested on a fertile valley, watered by countless streams, dotted with farm-houses and herds, and bounded beyond by the mountains which rose up so boldly as to seem but half a dozen miles away. All this section was devastated by the armies, and is now a wilderness, overgrown with bushes, rank weeds, and running briars.
Currently not on view
date made
Gardner, Alexander
place made
United States: Virginia, Centreville
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 17.5684 cm x 22.86 cm; 6 15/16 in x 9 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
related event
Civil War
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gardner's Sketchbook
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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