Plate 95. Mechanicsville, Virginia

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Text and photograph from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, Vol. II. Negative by John Reekie, text and positive by Alexander Gardner.
A pretentious title for a collection of about a dozen ordinary Virginia houses, including blacksmith shop and store; yet what memories crowd upon the mind at the mention of its name. Memories of the grand old Army of the Potomac, in its youthful flush, digging, hewing, and battling courageously with the Confederates, and their deadly ally, the Chickahominy; of tropical rains that in a day would transform luxuriant meadows into lakes, and make surging floods where before were stagnant pools; of bridges, built through swamps by armed battalions, and of that storm of battle which ended at Malvern Hill. Early in June, 1862, as the Army of the Potomac extended its wings along both banks of the Chickahominy, Mechanicsville fell into our possession. There was a struggle at Beaver Dam Creek and on the neighboring fields, the defenders finally retreating in disorder down the pike, and over the bridge, towards Richmond, three and a half miles distant. The skirmishers sacked the store and dwellings, the blacksmith's forge was immediately put in use by the cavalry and artillery, and the surgeons took possession of the houses for hospitals.
The pickets of each army watched the bridge with jealous eyes till the Union lines were withdrawn, on the 26th of June, and the enemy retaking the village, forced an engagement at Beaver Dam Creek, where they were repulsed by Fitz John Porter's troops. The two-story house, with a fence, seen in the photograph, is on the turnpike to Richmond. In front of this house a barricade was thrown across the road, which was defended by two howitzers, planted to sweep the pike in case a dash should be made by the enemy for the recovery of the place.
Currently not on view
date made
Gardner, Alexander
place made
United States: Virginia, Mechanicsville
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 17.5684 cm x 22.4366 cm; 6 15/16 in x 8 13/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
related event
Civil War
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Industry & Manufacturing
Gardner's Sketchbook
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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