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1864 Holland View of the U.S. Civil War Battle of Weldon Railroad

Battle of Weldon Rail-Road. August 21st, 1864. - Main View

1864 Holland View of the U.S. Civil War Battle of Weldon Railroad


Behind the lines in a Civil War battle.


Battle of Weldon Rail-Road. August 21st, 1864.
  1864 (undated)     19.25 x 26.5 in (48.895 x 67.31 cm)


This is a c. 1864 Richard Holland view of the American Civil War Battle of Weldon Railroad. The view is distinctive among Civil War prints for providing a rarely-seen view of events behind the lines of battle. Part of the Petersburg Campaign, the Battle of Weldon Railroad resulted in Union forces successfully severing the last railroad linking Petersburg and Richmond with Wilmington, North Carolina, the Confederacy's last remaining Atlantic port.
A Closer Look
Illustrating events of August 21, 1864, the fortified Federal line crosses the view in the middle ground. The foreground presents a behind the scenes look at the battle, with wooded officers, backup troops, supply stations, observers, and more of interest. Riflemen and artillery, protected by timber battlements, appear along the line, with smoke billowing skyward from the rifle and artillery fire. The Weldon Railroad cuts through the Federal line at an angle. The horses used by the artillery batteries appear behind the Federal line in the foreground, along with a handful of wounded and dying soldiers. Confederate soldiers appear in the background, marked mostly by the smoke billowing from their return fire. Six units defending the line are identified below the image and are Battery H, 1st New York; Battery B, 1st New York; Battery D, 5th United States; the 5th New York Regiment; the 9th Massachusetts Battery (Holland's unit); and the 16th Maine Regiment. On this day, Confederate forces tried and failed to dislodge the fortified Union forces from the railroad and then withdrew back to Petersburg.
The Battle of Weldon Railroad
The Battle of Weldon Railroad (also referred to as the Battle of Globe Tavern) was fought from August 18 - 21, 1864, as part of the siege of Petersburg. Known as Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant's Fourth Offensive of the Petersburg Campaign, the Battle of Weldon Railroad started as a feint, with Grant sending a force north of the James River to pull reinforcements and General Robert E. Lee's attention northward. This success allowed Grant to send another force under General Gouverneur K. Warren westward to attack the Weldon Railroad. The railroad held great strategic importance for Lee, since it was the last remaining rail link between Richmond (the Confederate capital), Petersburg, and Wilmington, North Carolina, the Confederacy's last Atlantic port. Warren's troops reached the Weldon around 9:00 a.m. on August 18 and began destroying the tracks. This prompted a response from Confederate General Beauregard, who sent General Heth down the Halifax Road to drive the Federals off the railroad. Heth won initial successes, but soon encountered strong resistance and was unable to dislodge the Union troops.

The next day, August 19, Grant elected to change tactics from a quick raid on the Weldon to extending the Union's fortified position to sever the railroad. This forced the Confederates to attack a fortified Union position for a change, a rarity during the Petersburg campaign. That afternoon, Confederate Generals Heth and Mahone attacked the Union positions, and again were initially successful, capturing around 2,500 Union soldiers and severing the Union line. However, after a strong counterattack, the Union had regained the lost territory by nightfall. The last day of the battle, August 21, was a disaster for the Confederates. Instead of attacking the Union flank and rear, as they believed, Confederate forces launched straight at the Union center and suffered severe casualties. This resulted in a Confederate withdrawal back to Petersburg and the Union extending their lines to include the newly won territory along the Weldon Railroad. Effectively severing the rail link, this success forced Lee to unload cargo from railcars thirty miles from Petersburg and carry it overland, making for a much less efficient (and much more vulnerable) supply line.
Publication History and Census
This view was drawn by Richard Holland and published by J. H. Bufford c. 1864. We note cataloged examples which are part of the collections at the Huntington Library, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Boston Athenaeum. We also note only one other instance in recent years when this piece has appeared on the private market.


Richard Holland (March 15, 1842 - January 12, 1906) was an Irish American soldier and artist. Born in Ireland, he arrived in the United States at the age of twelve. He became an apprentice painter to Captain Lucius Richmond and was practicing that trade at the beginning of the American Civil War. He joined the Union Army on July 29, 1862, as a Private and became a member of the 9th Massachusetts Light Infantry. Holland first saw combat at Gettysburg (where the battery had eleven killed or mortally wounded, another sixteen wounded, and two taken prisoner). Then he fought at and survived Mine Run, Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Bethesda Church, Weldon Railroad, Hatcher's Run, the Capture of Petersburg, and Lee's surrender at Appomattox. He was mustered out on June 6, 1865, and returned home with his sketchbook full of drawings of people and places associated with his time in the army. Holland was a member of the fourth gun detachment and was one of three artists in the battery, along with C. W. Reed and I. F. Eaton. In 1884, Holland was part of a group of 9th Massachusetts Battery veterans organized to go back to Gettysburg and mark the true position of their harrowing engagement at the Trostle Farm. Holland continued as a painter after the war and became known for his paintings and later for frescoes. Holland married twice. His first marriage to Cecilia Pray occurred in May 1866, with whom he had two children. Cecilia died in April 1880 of heart disease. Holland married Marietta M. Monk on July 1, 1882, with whom he had no children. He died of pneumonia. More by this mapmaker...

John Henry Bufford (July 27, 1810 - October 8, 1870) was a Boston based lithographer and printer. Bufford was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He apprenticed as an artist and lithographer at Pendleton Lithography (1825 - 1836) of Boston. In 1835 he relocated to New York where he took independent commissions from George Endicott and Nathaniel Currier, among others. Returning to his hometown of Boston in 1839, he took a position of chief artist with the firm of Benjamin W. Thayer, heir to Pendleton Lithography. He probably married Thayer's sister, Anna Melora Tufts Thayer (1808-1878). Bufford has been highly criticized as an engraver, with one historian, David Tatham, stating he had 'a mediocre sort of craftsmanship at best' and 'no very special skills as an original artist.' We, however, find no justification for this harsh criticism. Instead Bufford gravitated toward business and management. By 1844 Thayer's shop was renamed J. H. Bufford and Company. The firm specialized in decorative sheet music, panoramic views, illustrations for books, retractions of paintings, and commercial printing. Bufford is credited with being one of the first employers and mentors of the important artist and engraver Winslow Homer. Bufford died in 1870, passing on the business to his sons Frank G. Bufford and John Henry Bufford Jr. These young men, operating under the imprint of 'J.H. Bufford's Sons, Manufacturing Publishers of Novelties in Fine Arts', expanded the firm with offices in New York and Chicago. A possibly related lithographic printing firm named Bufford Chandler was incorporated in Boston in 1893. It later relocated to Concord, New Hampshire but closed in 1925 when its state business charter was repealed. Learn More...


Very good. Closed puncture above billow of smoke near center.


The Huntington Library priJLC_MIL_000765. Yale University Art Gallery 1946.9.2143. OCLC 191908681.