View of Belle Plain Camp of
Confederate Prisoners, May, 1864
This photograph was taken just after the Spotsylvania
campaign, in the course of which Grant lost thirty-six thousand men in
casualties but captured several thousand Confederates, part of whom appear
crowding this prison camp. A tiny tortuous stream runs through the cleft in
the hills. Near the center of the picture a small bridge spanning it can be
descried. Farther to the right is a group of Union soldiers. The scene is on
the line of communication from Belle Plain, the base of supplies, to the
army at the front. Exchanges had been stopped by order of General Grant on
the 17th of the previous month, when he started the hammering process by
which he ultimately exhausted the Confederacy but at the price of terrible
losses to the Union. The prisons in the North became populated to
suffocation, yet Grant held firm until it was certain that exchanges could
have little influence on the final result.
page 39 in 1911 book
- I am sure that the editor of the book never fathomed the technological
capabilities of the twenty-first century. The images readily available today
enable us a closer look at the photos he used than any any of his readers
could possibly have had, except for those with access to the originals.
Even then, it's likely that few of the images were enlarged to the extent that
they can be today. On the extra image
for this photo, close ups examine four different areas.
- This photo is from the Library of Congress, not scanned from the book.
visits to this page.
Page last revised05/24/2006
War Anecdotes, Incidents and Articles.
This online edition of The Photographic
History of the Civil War includes improved images using digital images
from the Library of Congress, when available. It also includes additional
images that are either cropped from the Library of Congress digital images
or are related to the specific topic being discussed in the article or page.
Volume 7 of the History is the first
volume I'm publishing online simply because it was the one I was interested
in when I decided to publish.
More to come, I hope.