Plate 33. Evacuation of Aquia Creek

Plate 33. Evacuation of Aquia Creek

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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.
This sketch was taken a few hours previous to the abandonment of Aquia Creek in June, 1863. The Army of the Potomac was along the Rappahannock before Fredericksburg, fifteen miles distant, and had used this point and Belle Plain, a similar landing, seven miles below, as a base of supplies. The movement commenced on Saturday morning. The President was expected to visited the army on that day, but the advance of the Confederates into Pennsylvania admitting of no delay, Gen. Hooker, in the afternoon, telegraphed Mr. Lincoln not to come, and immediately made preparations to leave. At daylight, Sunday morning, the whole army was in motion, and an immense throng of sutlers and other camp followers collected at Aquia Creek for transportation to Washington. By 10 A. M. the camps between this point and Fredericksburg were all deserted, and the civilians, in constant apprehension of an attack from the Confederate cavalry that might follow up the army as it passed the landing on its march to Washington, crowded on to the boats in the greatest confusion. The steamers were already heavily laden with stores, wagons, &c,, and the evacuation was attended with scenes that would have been regarded as ridiculous but for the general alarm.
The barges anchored in the stream were locked together for the transportation of the cars on the wharf, and were towed to Washington by the steamers loaded with passengers. All of the supplies had been removed from the buildings, and the latter, erected at great expense by the Quartermaster's Department, were committed to the flames. A gunboat lay out in the river for the protection of the place until all could get away; but no enemy appeared, and in a short time nothing remained of the busy village but smoking embers and half-burned wharves. Aquia Creek has been used three times as a base of supplies; once for McDowell, in 1862; next for Burnside, after the Antietam Campaign; and finally during Grant's operations at Spottsylvania. Nearly a hundred steamers have been collected here at one time, while sailing vessels anchored in the river nearly obstructed its navigation. The wounded were brought here from Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spottsylvania, to be sent to Washington; and in nearly all of the operations of the army in Eastern Virginia the place has borne a conspicuous part. The Confederates had formidable batteries on the bluffs which commanded the river previous to our occupation of Fredericksburg in the spring of 1862, and at the same time sheltered in the stream that runs down between the hills, the once notorious iron-clad Page.
The landing is now used by the Washington, Fredericksburg and Richmond Railroad Company, but will probably never be more than an ordinary station. Fever and ague prevail during the summer, forbidding the growth of a village, and with the completion of the railroad to Alexandria, the place will doubtless sink into oblivion, except as connected with the military operations of the great rebellion.
Currently not on view
Object Name
albumen photograph
date made
Gardner, Alexander
place made
United States: Virginia, Fredericksburg
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 17.5684 cm x 22.6484 cm; 6 15/16 in x 8 15/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Civil War
See more items in
Work and Industry: Photographic History
Gardner's Sketchbook
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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