N.Y. Vols at Petersburg, Va. [and] Winter Camp of the Third Brigade N Y. Vols. Edwin. H. Shorey, artist.
N.Y. Vols at Petersburg, Va. [and] Winter Camp of the Third Brigade N Y. Vols.
N.Y. Vols at Petersburg, Va. [and] Winter Camp of the Third Brigade N Y. Vols.
N.Y. Vols at Petersburg, Va. [and] Winter Camp of the Third Brigade N Y. Vols.

N.Y. Vols at Petersburg, Va. [and] Winter Camp of the Third Brigade N Y. Vols.

Petersburg, Va., c. 1864. Two watercolors on wove paper, 7.625” x 12.25” plus margins and 7.625” x 12” plus margins, each title and signed “E. H. Shorey” in the lower margin.

A handsome and vividly detailed pair of eyewitness Civil War watercolors executed by a member of the Third Brigade of the New York Volunteers.

Edwin H. Shorey of Utica, New York enlisted as a private on October 5th, 1861 and was mustered into Company “B” of the New York 57th Infantry, transferring to Company “D” in May of 1864. He served until September 23rd, 1864, mustering out as a 2nd Lieutenant. The 57th Infantry participated in numerous battles and campaigns, including, the Siege of Yorktown, the Battle of Seven Pines, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Siege of Petersburg.

One of the watercolors was painted during the latter engagement. Entitled N.Y. Vols at Petersburg Va., it depicts eleven soldiers engaged in various activities in a fortified trench. An officer leans against the trench wall looking through a spyglass across the ravaged landscape toward the enemy line, above which flaps a large Confederate flag. Two shells are bursting in the air not far from their position. Several soldiers nearby hold their rifles, while a group of three men sit on the ground nonchalantly playing cards. Another group of three, apparently officers, sit conversing at a table under a tent on the right. Various accoutrements are depicted as well, including knapsacks, bedrolls, canteens, and a tripod of bayoneted rifles.

Winter Camp of the Third Brigade N.Y. Vols likely depicts the Third’s camp during the winter of 1863-64, just preceding the Siege of Petersburg. Numerous log cabins are situated among the stumps of the many trees felled to build them, or cut or firewood, while a few trees left standing. The nature and variety of chimney construction is quite deliberately and carefully portrayed. Two are built entirely of wood, but with each showing a different method of construction, and each with a wooden barrel for a smokestack. Another consists of a brick base and two stacked barrels. Eight soldiers stand about somewhat idly, and an axe sticks out of a stump in the foreground, where a few sticks of firewood are scattered about.

Both watercolors appear to have been part of a sketchbook Shorey compiled, as they are on identical sheets and have essentially identical chips in the lower edge that correspond to the sewing in the volume from which they were removed.

The Siege of Petersburg was the concluding campaign of the Civil War. It lasted from June of 1864 to April of 1865. Trench warfare was carried out in over thirty miles of trenches, stretching from the eastern outskirts of Richmond to just south of Petersburg. Weakened by the sustained pressure and badly outnumbered, Lee’s army retreated from both cities in April of 1865, leading to the surrender at Appomattox.

An unusually detailed and accomplished pair of Civil War watercolors by a participant in the Siege of Petersburg.

CONDITION: Good, minor stains and toning, one somewhat larger stain in upper right corner of Winter Camp watercolor.

REFERENCES: American Civil War Research Database at www.civilwardata.com

Item #4055

Price: $6,500.00