Albumin photograph of the 50th New York Engineers Headquarters at Petersburg, Virginia taken by the famed Civil War photographer, Timothy O’Sullivan

Albumin photograph of the 50th New York Engineers Headquarters at Petersburg, Virginia taken by the famed Civil War photographer, Timothy O’Sullivan

Petersburg, Virginia: 1864. Unbound. The unmounted photograph measures approximately 9” x 6.75”. It shows the elaborate tent headquarters constructed by the unit complete with evergreen lined outside walls and double-arched entrance topped with a large triple-turreted insignia of the U.S. Army Engineers. A tripod-mounted theodolite and the unit’s colors stand in front of the structure. The photograph is annotated in pencil “248” on the reverse. It is in nice shape with two small mounting remnants on the reverse and some wear at its lower left tip. Very good. Item #009116

Timothy O’Sullivan began working for Matthew Brady well before the start of the Civil War in Brady’s Washington, D.C. studio under the supervision of Brady’s assistant, Alexander Gardner. In 1862, he and Gardner first achieved fame documenting the battlefield dead at Antietam when their photographs were exhibited in New York City. However, both men became disgruntled by Brady’s megalomaniac instance that only he receive official credit for the images, so the pair parted ways with Brady. Gardner, assisted by O’Sullivan, started his own company in 1863, and they arrived at Gettysburg just in time to capture a stunning series of photographs of unburied Union and Confederate dead on the battlefield. Both men continued to photographically document the rest of the war.

This photograph was taken by O’Sullivan the fall of 1864 following the fighting at Peebles and Pegrams Farms when of the 50th New York Engineers was garrisoned in a five-acre field on the Flowers Farm by Poplar Springs Church near Petersburgh. There, the unit constructed its quarters for the winter. One of the 50th’s officers, Captain William Folwell wrote in his diary that “some of the officers are putting up quite elaborate houses. . . . I mean to have as good a house as can be built of the material accessible, viz., green pine timber and canvas.” O’Sullivan may well have been the most prolific

cameraman of the Civil War as the Library of Congress has curated about 700 images attributed to him. The glass negative used by O’Sullivan to print this albumin image is located at the Library of Congress (LC-B817-7059).

Price: $850.00

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