An unseen sketch of Fredericksburg, December 1862

From:  Noel G. Harrison (originally published as part of a larger post over at Fredericksburg Remembered):

The vast Civil War output of special artist Alfred R. Waud (pronounced “Wood”) includes this sketch of Fredericksburg during the December 1862 battle.  The discussions of the sketch on this blog and on Fredericksburg Remembered probably represent its first appearances in interpretive venues despite its status, at least in my opinion, as one of the most powerful artworks in Waud’s entire portfolio: 

The specific date and location within Fredericksburg are not identified by the online catalog for the Library of Congress, where the sketch resides.

Erik F. Nelson, a senior planner with the City of Fredericksburg, has observed that the heavy smoke suggests a moment early in the Federals’ December occupation and shortly after the cessation of their bombardment:  sometime in the late afternoon or evening on December 11. 

With regard to possible location, the window- and door placements on the partially rendered building at left bear some resemblance to those of the Wallace House and Store. That once stood at the corner of Caroline and William streets (more recently the “Ben Franklin”-store corner) and appears in the right foreground of a different battle illustration from the Library of Congress collections–a frequently published sketch drawn by special artist Arthur Lumley on the night of December 12:

Rarely seen today, however, is the word-sketch that Lumley, a native of Ireland, added to the back of the same piece of paper (spelling original):

This night the city was in the wildest confusion sacked by the union troops = houses burned down furniture scattered in the streets = men pillaging in all directions – a fit scene for the French revolution and a discrace to the Union Arms – This is my view of what I saw.


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