American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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Ruins in Richmond

Ruins in Richmond
A. J. Russell (1830-1902)
Ruins in Richmond

Albumen silver print, April 1865
Prints & Photographs Division

Gift of Alma C. Haupt, 1955 (46.5)

The "Burnt District" in Richmond was a pitiable sight for the various photographers who scrambled to record the Confederate capital in the last days of the Civil War. As the government collapsed and people rioted, the fires -- meant to destroy the arsenal, bridges, and anything of military value -- spread to a large part of the city's prime commercial districts. Richmond's weary and long-suffering inhabitants searched for missing friends and relations and combed the ashes for what could be saved. Photographs such as this, of two soldiers and three young boys with piles of cannonballs in the foreground, serve as a reminder to posterity of the terror and devastation of the war.

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