Plate 74. Poplar Grove Church, built by the 50th N.Y.V. Engineers

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Text and photograph from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, Vol. II. Negative by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, text and positive by Alexander Gardner.
Too great a measure of praise cannot be bestowed upon a more noble and industrious body of men than the Fiftieth New York Volunteer Engineers. In the midst of the great demands made upon their services in tune of battle and of siege, the officers and men found pleasure in designing, planning, and building the beautiful rustic structure presented in this view, and devoting the same to the worship of the great God of Battles. The timber upon the spot, and the tools, with which they were provided for engineering purposes, furnished the material and means wherewith to exercise the taste, genius, and energy displayed. The first services, though they cannot well be styled a dedication, were conducted on Sunday, March 5, 1865, by the Rev. Mr. Duryea, of New York, and on each succeeding Sabbath day, and during many evenings of the week, the army chaplains and visiting clergymen were invited to officiate. It is built not far from the site of the old Poplar Spring Meeting House, a plain country board church, which was used successively by both armies as a hospital during the operations on the 29th and 30th of September, and 1st and 2d of October, 1864, near the Pegram House, now the site of Fort Fisher.
The present Church was used for the same purpose during the movements on the last of March, and 1st and 2d of April, 1865. The Regiment, upon moving away from its camp to take part in the pursuit of Lee's army, left a wooden tablet over the entrance to the Church, with these words inscribed upon it: "Presented to the Trustees of the Poplar Springs Church, by the Fiftieth Regiment New York Volunteer Engineers." Colonel Ira Spaulding commanded the Regiment, Captain McGrath, the architect and builder of the Church. In front is a group of several of the officers of the Regiment. On the foreground stands the architect himself. One view of the Church also shows, on the left, the quarters, neatly and tastefully arranged, of the Regimental officers.
It has been proposed to move the edifice to the great Central Park of New York City, as one of the mementoes of the war, and certainly no more interesting or striking feature could be added to the already many beautiful adornments that embellish those grounds. This monument to the skill and ingenuity of the builders, receives universal admiration.
Currently not on view
date made
Gardner, Alexander
place made
United States: Virginia, Petersburg
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 23.0716 cm x 17.78 cm; 9 1/16 in x 7 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
related event
Civil War
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gardner's Sketchbook
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Data Source
National Museum of American History


I hope and trust that they did not move the Church to NY. In todays climate against Religious items and icons, it probably would be torn down. I do wonder if it is still standing in it? Aside from the Church the campsite boasted several fairy-tale style camp structures made of logs and pine must have been .a truly fantastic sight in the midst of a War.

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