Plate 17. Military Bridge Across the Chickahominy

Description:

Text and photograph from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, Vol. II. Negative by David B. Woodbury, text and positive by Alexander Gardner.

Otherwise known by the name of its builder, and marked on the map, "Woodbury's Bridge." The picture is taken at a point where the accumulated waters most presented the character of a stream, the swamp being in some places all of a mile in width, and supporting on its treacherous surface a luxuriant growth. In the depths of this morass, the home of almost every variety of Virginia reptiles, the soldiers worked several weeks, constructing the causeways known as New, Duane's, Sumner's – Upper and Lower – Bottom's, and Railroad Bridges. The cutting of dams above, and heavy rains, stopped the workmen a number of times, and destroyed their labor, by converting the whole valley into a broad lake, whose waters, pressing through the length of the swamp carried everything irresistibly before them. In this way, during the battle of Fair Oaks, Sumner's troops had barely passed over, when the rapidly accumulated waters of the river carried away the bridge; and it was claimed by the engineers that the weight of the men in crossing kept it in its place. If, in that fight, our troops had been defeated, the limited facilities of re-crossing the Chickahominy would probably have led to the capture of the greater portion of the corps. The Grape Vine Bridge was so called for its tortuous course through the swamp. Its construction was necessarily rude, as rough, unhewn, and twisted logs formed the material. Down in the woods, the air seemed to be suffocating with stagnation, while beneath the pall of mist, an immense orchestra of double-bags bull frogs kept up a continual din, which at night drowned the rumble of the wagons over the corduroys.

Date Made: 1862

Maker: Gardner, Alexander

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Virginia, Chickahominy

Related Event: Civil War

Subject:

See more items in: Work and Industry: Photographic History, Gardner's Sketchbook, Military, Engineering, Building, and Architecture, Photography

Exhibition:

Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1986.0711.0334.17Accession Number: 1986.0711Catalog Number: 1986.0711.0334.17

Object Name: albumen photograph

Physical Description: paper (overall material)Measurements: overall: 7 in x 9 in; 17.78 cm x 22.86 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ab-c7a8-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1294175

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.