PROPERTY OF VARIOUS OWNERS
Point Lookout is located at the southern tip of St. Mary’s County, at the junction of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. A lighthouse was erected there in 1830 and later, in 1862, the Federal government built a hospital at this location to treat wounded and sick Union soldiers. After the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, it became the largest prison camp in the North. Confederate prisoners were held within a wooden walled pen, constructed on the bay shore, After the war the facilities were dismantled and sold as scrap. Only the lighthouse remains today.
John Jacob Ommenhausser, a Virginia private, produced these watercolor sketches of daily prison life at Point Lookout Prison Camp during his year long incarceration, following his capture in June, 1864. His detailed sketches are believed to have originated in four separate sketchbooks. Some of the individual sketches are published in Edwin W. Beitzell’s “Point Lookout Prison Camp for Confederates”, 1983; and in “Sketches from Prison: A Confederate Artist’s Record of Life at Point Lookout Prisoner-of-War Camp, 1863-1865, published in 1990.
One of the four sketchbooks mentioned above are in the collection of the Museum of American Folk Art and are published in American Radiance, pp. 277 and 503; figs. 237a – c. The present group of 19 drawings are the only such group in private hands.
The scenes depicted in this group of 19 drawings are as follows:
Scene on the Bay; Steam Engine Made by a Confederate Prisoner; Night Scenes (3); “What’s the Matter, Jim?”; Captain J.W. Barnes Asst. Prov. Marshal; Washing Machines; “Git Away from Dat!”; Sentinels Buying Rings from Rebels; Hot Fritters – Cakes and Beer; The Reb who had never seen a crab; Prison Cookhouse; Scene on the Bay Fishing; Officer of the Day; A Sentinel Accidently Shot by His Companion; Tobacco Pedlers; Entrance to the Prison Camp. (19 pieces).
See full set of nineteen drawings at sothebys.com
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