Army Repair Shop
Publisher: Alexander Gardner
Medium: Photographic print
This image, Army Repair Shop, was captured by O’Sullivan in February 1864 and shows a Union Army 'field workshop'. In his description of the image, Gardner makes reference to the fact that earlier in the war, soldiers had often undertaken repair work themselves, but as more men were needed to fight, the Union Army brought in skilled workers to provide camp support and, as the photograph shows, repair damaged equipment for the men on the front line.
According to Gardner, the tent in the middle contained a forge (it is possible to see smoke coming rising from it), and the image also shows wheel and harness makers.
Although it was deliberately posed, Gardner comments that the men on the left 'assumed positions of determined fixedness, worthy of the occasion' to give the viewer an impression of life in an army repair shop. 'Doing much good work under the scorching rays of the Southern sun', these men were repairing equipment for the Union’s Ninth Army Corps who would participate in the long siege campaign at Petersburg, Virginia, which took place between June 1864 and March 1865. The Corps suffered heavy losses during the infamous Battle of the Crater in July 1864, one of the bloodiest moments of the Battle of Petersburg.