David B. Woodbury (U.S., d. 1866 ): "Mrs. Henry's House at Bull Run"

Albumen print, 5.75 x 9 inches, 1861

Mrs. Henry was a widowed invalid who had the misfortune of living in the house that became the center of battle at Bull Run. This haunting image of the ruins of her home is one of the most eloquent commentaries ever made on the destruction of war.

A contemporary account describes the dramatic events of July 21, 1861:

Utterly unconscious that their home was to be the Theater of Battle, the Henry Family made no effort to escape until it was too late to do so. Among them was an aged mother, whom the son and daughter carried to a gully, and for the first charge, kept her out of the way of bullets. But when the fight pressed on, they brought her in again; and when it returned, they could not move her again. The house was literally riddled with bullets, and when the old lady was looked for, she had been sent to her long reward. Many bullets passed through her, and she was perfectly at rest.

David B. Woodbury was one of the most talented photographers working under the direction of Mathew B. Brady during the Civil War. He died of tuberculosis a year after the War ended. This image is from a group of original prints Woodbury sent home to his relatives. His diaries and letters, now in private hands, are the only such record of any Civil War photographer known to have survived. They have never been published.

 
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