Plate 88. Ruins of Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, Across the James

Text and photograph from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, Vol. II. Negative by Alexander Gardner, text and positive by Alexander Gardner.
When Jefferson Davis directed the evacuation of Richmond, he left instructions with Breckinridge and Ewell to burn the Confederate supplies and munitions of war. Davis left on Sunday night, and on the following morning, after they had crossed the river, this bridge was fired. The structure was built of wood, and rested on sixteen large stone piers. It had two passage-ways, one along the top for the cars, and one beneath the railroad track, for carriages. This view was taken from the Richmond side of the river, where are the ruins of a large paper mill.
In the back ground are seen the heights of Manchester, on which the rebels erected earthworks to defend Richmond when General Butler was making demonstrations from Bermuda Hundreds. The river is shallow at this point, and obstructed by huge boulders, between which are holes where the water is dune deep, rendering the stream unfordable. Belle Isle, where so many Union prisoners were starved and frozen, is about three fourths of a mile above this bridge.
A new structure has been built on the piers since this photograph was made, and the trains now cross regularly. Many of the ruins along the river side have been removed. Handsome buildings are in progress of erection, and the cities of Richmond and Manchester are resuming their bustle of trade and improvement.
Currently not on view
Object Name
albumen photograph
Gardner, Alexander
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 6 3/4 in x 9 in; 17.145 cm x 22.86 cm
place made
United States: Virginia, Richmond
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Gardner's Sketchbook
Civil War
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gardner's Sketchbook
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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