Plate 86. Interior View of Confederate Works at Gracie's Salient

Description
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.
Gracie's Salient is nearly opposite Fort Haskell. To the left of the centre of the picture, Poo Creek is seen to run through the enemy's line. To form an additional obstacle in front of the latter, for the purpose of checking and holding under fire any assaulting column, a dam was thrown across this creek to create an artificial pond. To the left of the creek a part of the line is revetted by what engineers style "hurdle revetement," made by driving poles into the banquette, and then forming a wicker-work, by interlacing twigs between them. At one point along it a traverse is to be seen to protect the men from an enfilading fire. Some little distance in front of this hurdle revetement, more in the foreground of the picture, it should be said, can be seen some chevaux-de-frise. This is an artificial means, placed in advance of a line or field work, as an obstacle to delay or break an attacking party. They have been probably placed there preparatory to being used. To the right of the creek is an admirable representation of the bomb-proofs in which the men lived, and the covered ways connecting them and communicating with them from the rear. Every means was taken to protect the soldiers from the constant risk they ran from exploding shells and leaden bullets. It would be difficult to accurately describe these suburban mansions; they are not located with much symmetry or regularity, the formation of the ground determining their relative positions, nor are they constructed with much regard to beauty. On the rebel side, in consequence of the scarcity of wood, small grates were used, in order to burn bituminous coal. The badly ventilated, damp, chilly atmosphere, impregnated with suffocating gas, had a very demoralizing effect.
A soldier is willing to brave danger on an open battle-field; but the hardships to which they must submit in the trenches during a long siege, whether exposed to a broiling summer's sun, or drenched by a cold winter's rain, proves ruinous to the constitution, although they may be fighting for "the best one" on the face of the earth. In the background of the picture may be seen the almost undiscernible lines constructed by the United States forces.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
1865-05
maker
Gardner, Alexander
place made
United States: Virginia, Petersburg
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 7 in x 9 in; 17.78 cm x 22.86 cm
ID Number
1986.0711.0283.36
accession number
1986.0711
catalog number
1986.0711.0283.36
related event
Civil War
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gardner's Sketchbook
Military
Photography
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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