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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Colonel's Cottage: 1865

The Colonel's Cottage: 1865

1865. Petersburg, Virginia. "Cottage of Col. Nathaniel Michler, U.S. Engineers, at Bryant house." From photographs of the main Eastern theater of war, the siege of Petersburg, June 1864-April 1865. Wet plate glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Bryant House

I see in the other picture the little boy up front and to her right. Also the woman with the umbrella is just behind her.

Dry Digs

The craftsmen and engineers knew what they were doing. Download the image and zoom in on the ridge and you will see a proper cap. The craftsman took the time to leave the circular feature on the end of the ridge cap as a decorative element. Nice!!

Re: Damp Digs

Considering how nicely engineered the structure is, it looks to me that rather than a fully-round log atop that roof, it in fact is the top, say, three-quarters of a log with the bottom quarter skillfully dished to fit over the shingles. The round tip we see (with a matching tip at the back of the roof) was left on the log to help hold it in place. No damp bedstraw for the Colonel and his Missus.

Take a look at my arrow. You should be able to just make out where the first shingle goes under the log (at arrow) and the log bark continues on back, overlapping the shingles. The round end appears to drop lower than the rest of the log because the wood from behind it to the other end was removed.


The ridge pole isn't round. On the ridge of the dormer on the left you can see it's a cross-section nailed onto the end.

Bungalow Bivouac

My apartment in Boston is only slightly larger. Creativity with space, or lack thereof, is a must. However, the needs of inside space for one person for temporary use might be minimal with such beautiful outdoors to take rest in. For the other times when the weather stops by, a nice fireplace makes up the difference (and one might assume a writing desk, to take the mind off the doldrums).

Perfect little cabin in the woods. Wish there were more pictures of it.


'scuse me if I'm ignorant -

Might this image be flipped? I say this because of the apparent reversed number 485 at the bottom.

[It's reversed because it's on the other side of the glass. - Dave]


the cabin too.

In this case, size doesn't matter

Small or not, it's a hell of a lot better than a pup tent. Rank does have its privileges.

That chair

hardly looks like it goes to this rustic cabin.

Lincoln Logs

I think I built the same house when I was a kid.

A familiar face

Is the woman in the middle of the porch from this picture?


This is almost certainly a garden folly.

Privileges of an Officer

And while the enlisted lived in dog tents or shebangs, and worrying about the wife far away.

Floor Plan

I'm guessing the the Colonel and family occupied the west wing and the servants and guests were put in the east wing. Equal access to the dining room and ballroom, don't you know.

Why Bother?

These elegantly gowned and coiffed ladies and even the youngster remind me of an old 50's story from my beatnik days. Being an elderly person who lives alone and rarely has visitors, I sometimes wonder why I bother to shower, get groomed and dressed every morning since nobody would know if I did not do it. These people living way out yonder and seemingly isolated were also all gussied up, even the little fellow in his white shirt and tie. So perhaps they were not as alone as they appear and there were visitors or people to see, since they seem very presentable and ready for company. Anyway, back to my story: It seems there was this distraught, lonely mental patient living in a psychiatric hospital who absolutely refused to wear any clothes at all, just a nice hat. The staff pleaded with him to clothe himself but he just reiterated "Nobody comes to see me, nobody has ever come to see me and nobody will ever come to see me, so why should I wear clothes?" One day the doctor asked him "Okay, I understand what you are saying, but then why do you wear a hat?" to which the patient replied "Well, ya never know, somebody MIGHT come."

Not their full-time home?

I would think that this was something they built to allow them to be closer to the Colonel while the war was going on. I would bet that they had a much larger home, elsewhere. This cottage is adorable, though, and obviously very lovingly built. I don't remember seeing such a nice window in a log cabin from this era, before. I wonder if there was another, on the other side?

Being the wife/children of a military officer has always been a challenge, and still is! You go wherever his career takes him. (Nowadays, it is sometimes where her career takes her.)

Cannot Have Been an Entertaining Seige

Neither of the ladies pictured looks exactly pleased. They could have been "left on the sidelines" to their boredom.


This charming little structure looks more like a child's playhouse you'd find behind a substanial main house rather than someone's full time abode!

Wow - craftsmanship!

What a beautiful piece of work! I hope there are still people with the skills to build houses like this.

Cramped Quarters

Just those dresses alone would fill that cabin!

I'll be tinkering out back if you need me

Our first home in Freeport, NY had a little shed out back. Inside we found old magazines, a guide to the 1939 World's Fair, old radio parts and one or two empty liquor bottles.

Sometimes a man just needs to get away.

Damp Digs

Did the U.S. Engineers think a round log would be a good idea on this rugged little cottage's ridge? I bet it leaked.

Feline physics

As my Louisiana kin would say, "couldn't swing a cat in there." But what a work of art!

Notice how all of the logs that form the walls are exactly the same circumference and how the notched joints at the corners allow the perfectly straight logs to fit together without gaps. Look at the straight pine sapling poles at the ridges on the roof and see the perfect proportions of the stick portico. Col. Michler was not only a good engineer -- but a pretty fair woodworker, too. It certainly helped to have stands of straight trees to pick his logs from, but this guy was an artist in pine.

[It is well put together, although we don't know if the colonel built the cottage himself. It is, as the caption notes, on the grounds of the Bryant house, a much larger abode. Federal officers occupied various residences as needed as they advanced through the South. - Dave]


Nice digs, and a lady with attitude!

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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