Here is another segment of the great waterfront panorama of Fredericksburg (see below), recorded in the spring of 1863.
This blowup focuses on the home and yard of Absolom P. Rowe, a cattleman and future mayor of Fredericksburg. Several interesting things here. The house, which no longer stands, is on the left, its front perpendicular to Sophia Street (or as it was more commonly referred to then, Water Street). Between the house and the river is a line of earthworks constructed by the Confederates during the winter of 1862-1863. This line, in fact, runs virtually the entire length of the larger panorama. But most amusing is what appears to be Mr. Rowe’s outhouse, perched on the slope leading down to the river–separated from the main house by the Confederate works (something that would likely to have been a major inconvenience during any nighttime forays).
A couple of larger points. First, Sophia Street was then, as it is today, a jumble of things, many of them short-lived, some of them unsightly, some beautiful. The rhythmic floods that inundate that part of the city rendered permanence there rare. Indeed, the city has, at least for the moment, surrendered to the forces of nature and is now creating a park along much of the riverside on Sophia Street. The character of Sophia Street is changing dramatically.
A.P. Rowe, the owner of the house in the image, was the son of George Rowe, (the elder Rowe was a prominent cattleman and, later in life, ordained pastor of the African Baptist Church–more on that church in a later post). The younger Rowe entered the cattle business, and during the war was a buyer for the Confederate Commissary Department.
Rowe owned a slaughterhouse whose waterside fencing is also plainly visible in the panorama just above the ruins of the railroad bridge. Not too the soldiers fishing in the river just below the outlet of the flume to Marye’s Excelsior Mill (which, by the way, was brand new at the outset of the war).