Oct 22, 2007

Military Bridge, Across the Chickahominy, Virginia

Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War

Military Bridge, Across the Chickahominy, Virginia


David B. Woodbury

(American, 1866)

Albumen print, gold toned, from wet collodion negative

Image: 17.7 x 23 cm (6 15/16 x 9 1/16 in.); Matted: 40.6 x 50.8 cm (16 x 20 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1991.283



In this complex composition, David B. Woodbury merged the documentation of an event with his desire to record an impressive landscape. The image depicts a precarious, yet essential military log bridge that traverses a swamp created by the accumulated waters of the Chickahominy River, located southeast of Richmond, Virginia. Constructed under difficult physical conditions, the structure was later destroyed by floodwaters caused by heavy rains. The workers involved with the structure's construction are positioned in a single line so that each person is identifiable; however, reduced to diminutive size by the camera's distant viewpoint, the workers appear to be dominated by their natural environment. This image appeared in the first volume of a two-volume set of 100 Civil War photographs published between 1865–66 by Alexander Gardner (1821–1882), who printed the negatives and compiled the album, which included work by a number of other photographers.

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