Among the Bierstadt photographs in the collection at the New York Public Library is the following, entitled "Culinary art in Camp, 43rd Reg. N.Y. Volunteers":
|(courtesy of Wikimedia; also at NYPL Digital Collections)|
This stereoscopic photograph does not mention a location. However, given that Bierstadt was with the 43rd New York at Camp Griffin, it seems highly probable that this photograph was taken there around the same general time as the regimental camp scene that I have featured before on the blog:
|(courtesy of Wikimedia; also at NYPL Digital Collection)|
This conclusion is further reinforced by the numbering convention at the bottom of both photographs. The photo of the regiment in formation bears the number 1319, while the culinary scene appears as number 1323. They are close enough in the sequence to be related to one another, and also bear the same photographer's inscription on the reverse of "Bierstadt Brothers, New Bedford, Mass." I haven't yet been able to reconstruct where else Bierstadt may have photographed the 43rd New York after Camp Griffin, if at all.
The photograph itself is rather curious. Bierstadt has captured an ordinary scene of camp life, in all its primitive glory, and his title for the photograph is certainly ironic! A crude shelter covers the "kitchen." Poultry and meat carcasses, along with a butcher's ax, appear to rest on a wooden plank. Boxes and pots clutter the background. A couple of the cooks wear what look like fezes. One man is busy cutting food. The picture reminds us that the Civil War was often more than just marches and battles. Thanks to Bierstadt, we are fortunate to get yet another opportunity to see life in the camps around Washington at the start of the war.
Eleanor Jones Harvey, The Civil War and American Art (2012).
For more on the location of the camp of the 43rd N.Y. see my previous posts here and here.