Alexander Gardner (American, 18211882)
Albumen silver print from glass negative; 6 7/16 x 14 1/2 in. (16.3 x 36.9 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1933 (33.65.11)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1933 (33.65.226)
In 1861, at the outset of the American Civil War, the Confederate government moved its capital from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia, to be closer to the front and to protect Richmond's ironworks and flour mills. On April 2, 1865, as the Union Army advanced on Richmond, General Lee gave orders to evacuate the city. A massive fire broke out the following day, the result of a Confederate attempt to destroy anything that could be of use to the invading army. In addition to consuming twenty square blocks, including nearly every building in Richmond's commercial district, it destroyed the massive Gallego Flour Mills, situated on the James River. Gardner made numerous photographs of the "Burnt District," as well as this panorama from two negatives. The charred remains of the Gallego Mills became an iconic image of the fall of the Confederacy and the utter devastation of the Civil War.