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Group of Confederate Prisoners at Fairfax Court-House

Group of Confederate Prisoners at Fairfax Court-House

Publisher: Alexander Gardner

Medium: Photographic print

Shelfmark: 1784.a.13.1_f070r

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photographer: Timothy H. O'Sullivan

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This photograph, depicting a Group of Confederate Prisoners at Fairfax Court-House, was captured by O’Sullivan in June 1863. This image shows what happened to captured soldiers after a battle as Confederate troops are lined up between Union guards. According to the information provided in the sketchbook, 'these were a batch of rebel cavalrymen'.

The description notes the poor quality of the Confederate Army uniform as well as the fact that you can see some, especially in the very centre of the picture, who are in plain clothes. Gardner’s description suggests that these were perhaps recent conscripts.

The fact that some prisoners are not in uniform highlights how Confederate supply–lines were stretched even by the middle years of the war. Fairfax Country Courthouse, Virginia, passed from Confederate to Union hands during the war and was close to some the state’s worst fighting. By the time this photograph was taken, the Courthouse was under Union control and was used as a military outpost to protect communication and supply routes, as well as transfer prisoners of war as this photograph demonstrates.

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