I first came across Houghton's photographs at the McLean Community Center. It turns out that Houghton stayed with the Vermont Brigade at Camp Griffin in what is now McLean, Virginia from October 1861 through early 1862. (As readers of this blog know, I have an interest, bordering on obsession, with Camp Griffin!) Houghton captured numerous images of the brigade's encampments and the surrounding countryside. Some of these photographs grace the walls of the Community Center. Imagine my delight when I discovered that the Vermont Historical Society has published, "A Very Fine Appearance":The Vermont Civil War Photographs of George Houghton by Donald W. Wickman. Harold Hotlzer contributed the foreword on the Civil War in photography.
"A Very Fine Appearance" covers Houghton's three separate stays with Vermont regiments in the field: at Camp Griffin from 1861-62; during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign; and along the Occoquan River during the winter and spring of 1863. The book presents full-page reproductions of Houghton's photographs; a caption and related quotation from a diary, newspaper, or other source are provided on the page opposite each photograph.
|Camp of the 5th Vermont at Camp Griffin, Virginia (courtesy of Vermont Historical Society). This photograph is featured on the cover of the companion book to Ken Burns' The Civil War.|
|Maj. Charles B. Stoughton, Col. Edwin Stoughton, and Lt. Col. Harry N. Worthen on the Peninsula, 1862 (courtesy of Vermont Historical Society).|
"A Very Fine Appearance" belongs in every Civil War enthusiast's library alongside other photographic collections. Although the hardcover carries a rather hefty price tag, owning a copy of Houghton's masterful Civil War photography is well worth the cost. "A Very Fine Appearance" is a handsome publication in its own right, and reminds us once again that there will always be room for "real" books in an age of e-readers.