Behind Union lines
Original Author: Timothy H. O'Sullivan
Created: May 19, 1864
Medium: Wet collodion glass-plate negative; one half of stereograph
Publisher: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

Behind Union lines

Union artillery batteries rest in reserve in the distance in this glass-plate stereograph taken by Union photographer Timothy O'Sullivan on May 19, 1864. The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House was being fought nearby and the photographer positioned himself behind Union lines in the yard of the Beverley farmhouse, where Union general Gouverneur K. Warren, commander of the Fifth Corps, had established his headquarters. The covered wagon in the foreground at far right bears a Maltese Cross, the symbol of the Fifth Corps. On the day this photograph was taken there were at least four artillery batteries in reserve. They had been relieved from fighting the previous day; nonetheless, the horse teams remain hitched to their wagons, following standing orders of preparedness. Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, commander of the Fifth Corps artillery brigade, was infuriated by the directives, believing that they posed an undue burden on the horses who were already fatigued from action and suffering from hunger, as they were only being fed half rations due to limited supplies.