The World's Largest Public Domain Source

  • homeHome
  • searchSearch
  • photo_albumStories
  • collectionsCollections
  • infoAbout
  • star_rateUpgrade
  • account_boxLogin
[Ordnance Wharf, City Point, Virginia]

[Ordnance Wharf, City Point, Virginia]

  • save_altThumbnail200x200
  • save_altSmall640x537
  • save_altMedium1024x859
  • save_altLarge1600x1342
  • save_altOriginal1600x1342


Very little is known of the early career of Thomas C. Roche. During the Civil War, he worked for E. & H. T. Anthony, New York publishers of cartes-de-visite and stereoscopic views and distributors of photographic supplies. In early April 1865, near the war's end, Roche received special orders from Anthony to work for General Montgomery Meigs. As quartermaster of the Union Army, Meigs was responsible for the procurement and transportation of everything from bootlaces to artillery. He was also an amateur photographer and recognized the military usefulness of documentary photography.This view shows the ordnance wharf on the James River at City Point, Virginia, and exemplifies military order and efficiency. Guarded by two armed soldiers from the Corps d'Afrique, one carefully silhouetted against the river, the wharf supports a long line of limbers, the detachable two-wheeled vehicles behind which gun carriages are towed. A single railroad track used to expedite the unloading of supply ships runs the length of the wharf. Built by Meigs in 1864, City Point was the Union Army's major supply base for the ten-month siege of Petersburg, the last major campaign of the war. A small village with a population of only several hundred when it was taken over by the military, it became in one year the busiest port in the world.
Thomas C. Roche (American, 1826–1895)

Hundreds of photographers whose names may never be known made their living following the armies during the Civil War. They worked out in the field tents and traveled at a moment’s notice. Photographers recorded the faces of tens of thousands of soldiers: new recruits and veterans—producing a vast likeness of American society. Many Civil War photographers began their careers as apprentices to Mathew B. Brady, America's self-appointed photographic "historian." Initially, a small corps of photographers copied maps and charts for the Union's Secret Service, which were distributed as photographic prints to both field and division commanders. During the Civil War, most photographers worked with the collodion-on-glass negatives, which required delicate and laborious procedures even in the studio. When the photographer was ready for action, a sheet of glass was cleaned, coated with collodion, partially dried, dipped carefully into a bath containing nitrate of silver, then exposed in the camera for several seconds and processed in the field darkroom tent--all before the silver collodion mixture had dried. Given the danger of their situation and the technical difficulty of their task, front-line photographers rarely if ever attempted action scenes. Civil War photographers produced vast photographic documentation of the Civil War. Despite decades of painstaking research by dedicated historians and Civil War buffs, a large number of the era's photographs remain unidentified.





The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Copyright info

Exploreordnance wharf

Explorecity point