Part of Construction Corps Building New Military Truss Bridge Across Bull Run
Egbert Guy Fowx (American, born 1821)
Salted paper print from glass negative
Image: 15 x 20.6 cm (5 7/8 x 8 1/8 in.)
Mount: 19.9 x 25 cm (7 13/16 x 9 13/16 in.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Denise and Andrew Saul Gift, 2005
Not on view
In 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, Fowx left his portrait studio in Baltimore, Maryland, and joined Mathew Brady's corps of photo-graphers documenting the War Between the States. In 1863, along with many other cameramen, he would leave Brady's employ to work exclusively for Alexander Gardner, Brady's former studio manager. This photograph is typical of Fowx's wartime photographs and shows engineering repairs on the famous Orange & Alexandria Railroad bridge over Bull Run creek, near Union Mills, Virginia.
In every war, the efficient movement of troops, ammunition, provisions, and information to the front lines is the responsibility of military tacticians working alongside military engineers. During the Civil War, the efficient operation of the railroads and the adept repair of bridges were of critical importance to both sides of the conflict. One of the many engineering innovations of the period was the use by the United States Military Railroad Construction Corps of portable bridge trusses that could be constructed in distant carpenter shops and shipped by train to wherever the army needed them. The Corps got much of its training at this Bull Run bridge, which was destroyed seven times during the war. The final destruction was not caused by the Confederates but by a particularly brutal springtime flood.
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil in unknown hand on mount, verso BRC: "[sideways, underlined] Fowx"; inscribed in pencil in unknown hand on mount, recto L, R, BL, BR: "Ewell on // this hill", "Ewell // here", "Looking toward Alexandria", "Bull Run Bridge"
[Paul Katz, New York]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, September 5, 1987
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sight Unseen: Photographs from the Gilman Collection".
See Library of Congress print, LC B8184-10494 with title on original mount: "Part of Construction Corps Building Military Truss Bridge Across Bull Run, April 1863"; Also on mount: "UNITED STATES MILITARY RAILROAD DEPARTMENT // CONSTRUCTION AND TRANSPORTATION."