January 26, 2012

Alexandria in the Civil War

Wally made this panorama of the Alexandria waterfront from three images
Alicia and I attended a lecture tonight by Wally Owen at the Lyceum, Alexandria's History Museum, called, "A Visual Tour of Civil War Alexandria."  Wally Owen is the Assistant Director of the Fort Ward Museum and co-author of "Mr. Lincoln's Forts: A Guide to the Civil War Defenses of Washington." The lecture was a two hour tour of Alexandria in the Civil War including a finale where everyone got to see some of the stereoscopic images in 3D using funky two color glasses.

It was a wonderful presentation. Wally literally had the audience gasping in amazment as he showed some of the details in the high resolution photos available from the LoC and other places. He also showed examples of how he does detective work to identify photos, locations, dates and other details through cross correlation of photos and original documents.

The advance billing for the talk said some of the photos had never been published and indeed, there were several that I have never seen before.

Some highlights that I noted included.

A photo of an engine parked in front of the Wilkes Street tunnel showed a large light mounted on the tender. I don't think I have ever seen a shot showing a back-up light on the tender. That was cool.

He presented a shot of the Alexandria, Loudon and Hampshire engine terminal that showed  the view from the east to the west. It had a lot of good detail of the AL&H terminal.  Anyone modeling the AL&H  needs to get a copy of this photo. Wally did not mention the source of that photo.

Wally mentioned that W. M. Merrick, the draftsman that drew several important maps of Alexandria, Washington and City Point, was friends with Captain Andrew Russell, the photographer. Wally showed a sketch that Merrick drew of Russell painting the tender of the engine Stanton. This engine has an elaborate painting of secretary Stanton on the tender. Apparently Russell's first avocation was as an artist and he learned photography on the fly in 3 months during the war while in the employ of Haupt. Wally speculated on what else Russell may have painted, perhaps the eagle on the Lincoln funeral train.

The presentation was chock full of interesting information. It was well worth attending.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! I wish I had been able to go to this. Perhaps he will do a repeat performance at some point during the Sesqui.