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Hampton, Virginia: 1864

December 1864. "Hampton, Virginia. View of the town. From photographs of the Federal Navy and seaborne expeditions against the Atlantic Coast of the Confederacy." Wet-plate glass negative, photographer unknown. View full size.

December 1864. "Hampton, Virginia. View of the town. From photographs of the Federal Navy and seaborne expeditions against the Atlantic Coast of the Confederacy." Wet-plate glass negative, photographer unknown. View full size.


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The Freedmen's Village

An engraving apparently based on this photograph appeared in Harper's Weekly, September 30, 1865. The caption identifies the photographer as "Gardner, Washington." There is a short article too, which extends onto a second page.

Page 1 | Page 2

Shoveling garbage?

I'm amazed at the amount of garbage outside the house in the right foreground... it looks like they actually shoveled a path thru it, rather as if it was snow in the yard.

[It's probably ashes and cinders. - Dave]

Slabtown II

This was, as noted in the other Hampton photo, an improvised camp for refugee slaves built with scrap lumber on the ruins of the 1861 fire set by Hampton citizens in the face of advancing Federal troops early in the Civil War. Which is why some of the the chimneys (which survived the fire) might seem a bit big for the shacks built around them. The church is St. John's Episcopal.

[Kind of ironic, isn't it. Instead of depriving the Yankees of the use of their town by burning it down, the residents of Hampton gave the Federals a place to build a "colored encampment" for former slaves in their midst. - Dave]

The Counterweighted Lift

is more than likely for getting water out of the well.

Chamberpot Park

I'd imagine this neighborhood was fairly fragrant, and not on account of the animals. I don't see any outhouses. And I don't suppose they enjoyed the benefits of indoor plumbing.

Two flued

The fireplace probably has both inside and outside hearths.

Global warming

Why does the shack on the left have the fireplace facing the outside of the building?

Line of Demarcation

It looks to me as though there is a clear difference between the buildings from the center of the photo back versus those in the front. The houses are all nicely built, the roofs are shingled nicely, etc., etc. while those in the foreground look like glorified sheds. Were these strictly for chickens, tools and so forth?

Fireplace Modification

What is up with the fireplace/chimney attached to the white house on the left? Repaired I suppose.

What is the counterweighted lift for on the left? For weighing something?

Fascinating glimpse of centuries past

This is what many small towns in the US must have looked like from the time of Jamestown right up through the Civil War, in the absence of mechanized traffic or urban planning. The narrow lanes bounded by fences remind me of isolated Tangier Island even today.

Chicken Consciousness

Once you get sensitized to the idea of chickens, they start popping up everwhere. Four pretty obvious ones are sitting on the ramp at the building with the doorway just to the left of center of the picture. Look hard and you'll start seeing them everywhere, real or imagined.

Cooped up

It being winter, I guess most of the poultry would be in the henhouse, or wherever chickens go on a cold day.


I'd guess they came down to help move the load of wood out on the road into the yard.

Hampton U

Judging from what little of the actual landscape is showing (mostly the creek) I'd think that's pretty close to where Hampton University is now, or perhaps slightly farther inland, closer to Magruder Boulevard.

Up on the roof

The temporary patching job on the foreground roof is duly noted, but why did someone leave a basket on top of the overhang thing? Final question: Where are the people??

[Look around. Three people in the ditch on the right. - Dave]

Love it!

Wonderfully crude.

"You want me to do... what?"

The likely reaction of the poor soul sent out to survey the property lines.

No Grey Gardens

No trees due to gardens, people's chief food source along with those chickens. I love this picture, everything is compartmentalized.

Current Hampton Resident

I currently live in Hampton (student at Hampton University). I would love to know where exactly this picture was taken; perhaps the ruined building under the trees at the top right could help identify the location. Any further information about this image would be greatly appreciated.

[It's the ruins of a church (also seen below) in the trees. - Dave]

Gone With the Wind

None of these structures could have lasted long. I wonder what this area looks like today.

Big Fences

Seems everyone like fences. Tough on little trees though.

Why do you suppose ...

they devoted so much labor and material to building fences? It could not have been a trivial task. I would really like to know.

[I'd imagine most of these people kept chickens. - Dave]

Good fences make good neighbors.

The abundance of fences must explain the absence of trees.

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