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HomeContentsVisual indexesJames Gardner

James Gardner 
Breaking Camp 
[Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War. Incidents of the War, pl. 63] 
1864, May 
Albumen print 
7 x 9 in 
Lee Gallery 
Courtesy of Lee Gallery (Z1387) 
"Negative by James Gardner. Brandy Station, May, 1864. Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1865, by A. Gardner, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Columbia. Incidents of the War. Breaking Camp. Published by Philp & Solomon, Washington. Positive by A. Gardner, 511 7th Street, Washington" printed in the margin recto.
Original caption:
Here is represented the deserted quarters of Gen. Sharp, Chief of the Secret Service of the Army of the Potomac, at Brandy Station, Virginia. The tents have been removed, and the sketch depicts the scene when the camping ground, which had been occupied by headquarters during the winter, is being abandoned for the spring campaign. In the back-ground are the stalls for the staff horses, and the stockade or "bull pen" for prisoners arrested by the Provost Marshal General. The photograph possesses interest only as an illustration of the mode of life of the army in winter. No sooner is it known in camp that the quarters are likely to be permanent, than every man commences the erection of substantial quarters, which, in the winter season are made as comfortable as any village. Floors are laid in the tents, log huts are built, and their inner walls neatly covered with illustrated papers, and chimneys with capacious fire-places erected, rendering the winter home of the soldier, if not desirable, at least a very pleasant residence. Storms and frost are unheeded, and the long evenings pass in mirth, with no care for to-morrow's hardship or future perils.
What sad reflections crowd upon the mind in visiting these relics of the past! All through the South in many a lonely waste such columns stand as mournful monuments of forgotten joys and aspirations; sealed volumes, whose unwritten lore none can interpret save those who made the record. Fragments of a sorrowful era, and witnesses of events which the world may pray shall never be re-enacted, the visitor beside each wreck will ask:

"Why standest thou, lone mark?
Gray ruins, mist and mould
Are dripping where thy spark
Glimmered in times of old
Within thy bosom now.
The snake hath made his home:
The owl, from 'neath thy brow
Hoots his nightly gloom
The chiping cricket's song has ceased,
The silent spider spreads his feast;
Here did thy winter welcome shine,
Where darkly creeps the poison vine.
So hopes too bright forsake the breast,
And canker comes a constant guest.
Old fragment! perish with they lore,
Nor longer memory implore.

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