Media: Slideshow

African Americans Working for the Union Army

African American Union Army Cook

An African American cook tends to steaming cauldrons of food in this glass-plate photograph. The image was taken in a camp at City Point sometime between June 1864 and April 1865, during the siege of Petersburg.

Original Author: Unknown

Created: ca. June 1864 to April 1865

Medium: Wet collodion glass-plate negative; one half of stereograph

Courtesy of Library of Congress

African Americans Working at City Point

A glass-plate photograph depicts African American laborers working alongside a wharf in City Point, the Union supply hub and headquarters during the Petersburg Campaign. An armed soldier stands at center in the mid-distance. This image is part of the Civil War glass-plate negative collection at the Library of Congress.

Original Author: Unknown

Created: Between 1861 and 1869

Medium: Wet collodion glass-plate negative; one half of stereograph

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Scouts at Secret Service Headquarters in City Point

Union scouts working for the secret service pose outside headquarters in City Point in a photograph probably taken during the final months of the war. A network of scouts and spies helped gather information behind enemy lines.

Original Author: Unknown

Created: Probably 1865

Medium: Photographic print

Courtesy of Library of Congress

General Fitz John Porter and Staff, 1862

General Fitz John Porter, commander of the Union Fifth Corps, and his staff of seven officers pose in front of a tent at Harrison's Landing on the James River in August 1862. From left to right are Major Joseph Kirkland, Colonel Frederick T. Locke, Major George Monteith, Porter (seated), Dr. Charles McMillan, Captain John F. McQuade, Colonel C. B. Norton, and Captain William P. Mason. The African American woman on the far right, a Mrs. Fairfax, is identified as "chief Cook & Bottle Washer," an idiom suggesting someone who does a little bit of everything. A handwritten inscription on the back reads, "To Gen. Grindley with the compliments of Fitz John Porter." The general may have been James Glas Grindlay (also Grindley), who served in the Fifth Corps and, by the end of the war, was a brevet brigadier general.

The Photographic History of the Civil War (1911) dates this image to June 1862, just after the Seven Days' Battles; however, the Fifth Corps remained at Harrison's Landing until August 14–15. If, as the inscription suggests, the latter date is accurate, then this was just a few weeks before the Second Battle of Manassas, a Union defeat during which Porter was accused of disobeying an order and misbehaving before the enemy. He was convicted by court-martial and left the army, only to be exonerated in 1878.

Original Author: Unknown

Created: August 1862

Medium: Photographic print

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Zoom In
  • African American Union Army Cook

    An African American cook tends to steaming cauldrons of food in this glass-plate photograph. The image was taken in a camp at City Point sometime between June 1864 and April 1865, during the siege of Petersburg.

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: ca. June 1864 to April 1865

    Medium: Wet collodion glass-plate negative; one half of stereograph

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

  • African Americans Working at City Point

    A glass-plate photograph depicts African American laborers working alongside a wharf in City Point, the Union supply hub and headquarters during the Petersburg Campaign. An armed soldier stands at center in the mid-distance. This image is part of the Civil War glass-plate negative collection at the Library of Congress.

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: Between 1861 and 1869

    Medium: Wet collodion glass-plate negative; one half of stereograph

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

  • Scouts at Secret Service Headquarters in City Point

    Union scouts working for the secret service pose outside headquarters in City Point in a photograph probably taken during the final months of the war. A network of scouts and spies helped gather information behind enemy lines.

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: Probably 1865

    Medium: Photographic print

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

  • General Fitz John Porter and Staff, 1862

    General Fitz John Porter, commander of the Union Fifth Corps, and his staff of seven officers pose in front of a tent at Harrison's Landing on the James River in August 1862. From left to right are Major Joseph Kirkland, Colonel Frederick T. Locke, Major George Monteith, Porter (seated), Dr. Charles McMillan, Captain John F. McQuade, Colonel C. B. Norton, and Captain William P. Mason. The African American woman on the far right, a Mrs. Fairfax, is identified as "chief Cook & Bottle Washer," an idiom suggesting someone who does a little bit of everything. A handwritten inscription on the back reads, "To Gen. Grindley with the compliments of Fitz John Porter." The general may have been James Glas Grindlay (also Grindley), who served in the Fifth Corps and, by the end of the war, was a brevet brigadier general.

    The Photographic History of the Civil War (1911) dates this image to June 1862, just after the Seven Days' Battles; however, the Fifth Corps remained at Harrison's Landing until August 14–15. If, as the inscription suggests, the latter date is accurate, then this was just a few weeks before the Second Battle of Manassas, a Union defeat during which Porter was accused of disobeying an order and misbehaving before the enemy. He was convicted by court-martial and left the army, only to be exonerated in 1878.

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: August 1862

    Medium: Photographic print

    Courtesy of Library of Congress