Timothy H. O'Sullivan (American, born Ireland, 1840–1882)
Mathew B. Brady (American, born Ireland, 1823?–1896 New York)
Albumen silver print
Gift of Mrs. A. Hyatt Mayor, 1981
Not on view
This study of river steamers and barges moored at a Union Army supply base on the Pamunkey River in Virginia takes its name from a building, the "White House," that was nothing but chimneys in 1864. The site was selected by General Ulysses S. Grant as a depot to serve his army as it battled southward toward Richmond in early summer 1864. The elegant sidewheeler Wenonah survived the war and served for many decades as a passenger vessel on the Chesapeake. Timothy O'Sullivan was one of the many photographers who began their careers as apprentices to Mathew B. Brady in his Washington, D.C., portrait studio. When the early events of the Civil War suggested no immediate resolution of the conflict, O'Sullivan abandoned the gallery for four years in the field. He worked constantly, producing outstanding views of bridges, encampments, hospitals, and battlefields that he sent back to Washington, first to Brady and then to Alexander Gardner, whose studio he joined officially in winter 1862-63.