Civil War Bridge On The Pamunkey

US Signal Corps Photo (Brady Collection) in National Archives
US Signal Corps Photo (Brady Collection) in National Archives

In The American Heritage History of American Railroads by Jensen, this 1862 image shows a bridge under construction. Major General George McClellan of the Union Army brought locomotives and cars by ship from Baltimore and ran trains as close to four miles to the Confederate capital. The workmen are seated, and to the left is a photographer’s field darkroom. At that time, photographs had to be developed immediately and while wet.

To their left , a locomotive was arriving on a ship in White House Landing on the Pamunkey River.


Here is another image of the field darkroom, invented by Matthew Brady.

The wagon would carry the chemicals, glass plates, and finished negatives. Can you imagine what would have happened if the horses got startled or took off at a gallop?

8 thoughts on “Civil War Bridge On The Pamunkey

  1. Nice! Part of my job in the water department has been restoring, scanning and documenting glass plate negatives. My favorites are the posers and the guys that won’t stand still, leaving a ghost image.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, yes! We were joking about that at my aunt’s yesterday. I said we should do a family portrait a la 1908 and look stoic and still, but we’d need one squirrely baby to make the requisite blur LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

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