Federal Picket Line in Front of Fort Hell on the Jerusalem Plank Road
A dozen or so photographs were taken of the picket line on Jerusalem Plank Road. Several featured a dead Confederate soldier lying in the road on April 3, 1865. Another series shows soldiers posing in these same picket posts and mugging for the camera. The posts are constructed almost entirely of gabions that could be carried forward after dark and then filled with earth. There has been some quibbling over the years that this is actually the Confederate picket line, but the rebels rarely used gabions, Confederate Batteries 27 and 28 can be seen in the distance, and other photographs show the view from the CS lines looking back at these same picket posts. The rebel soldier was unfortunate in that he was killed while trying to reach the safety of the rear after surrendering to the Federals during the pre-dawn assault on April 2nd. He appears to have been shot in the back of the head. The burial parties tended to the Federal dead first, before looking after the rebel dead. In the series of photographs of Confederate dead in the trenches by Thomas Roche taken on April 3rd, there is evidence that the burial parties were not far behind the photographers. Our surmise is that the photographers were held up for a time at the picket line and exposed a few images, while waiting for permission to cross over to the Confederate trenches where more bodies were discovered.
Detail from Michler map series (sheet G204-36) showing the area between Fort Sedgwick and Rives' Salient where these photographs were taken.
02621. "Petersburg, Virginia. View showing how close picket lines were to each other." Soldiers are standing atop the Confederate picket line in the foreground. The Federal "gabion" posts are in the distance.
Detail from photo 02621 above showing view of four Federal gabion picket posts (red arrows) from the Confederate picket line.
Detail from photo 32430 above showing view of three Federal gabion picket posts (red arrows) from the Confederate picket line.