“Porte Crayon” in Harrisonburg, June 2, 1864

Posted on June 2, 2014 by


It’s been an extraordinarily busy past few months, and postings here have suffered mightily for it.

That said, last night I happened to “catch-up” with David Hunter Strother, as the Federal army advanced up the Shenandoah Valley toward Staunton. As of June 2, Strother awoke (near New Market) to find his “fine bay horse” gone… “stolen probably”. Obviously able to find another mount, he continued on with a party, reaching Big Spring, and eventually “within sight of Harrisonburg on the hills north of town.” Strother continued:

After locating the troops we took the house of a Mr. Grey [Algernon Grey, perhaps?] for headquarters, a fine brick house on a hill above the town and where taste and comfort were visible at every turn. In his library I found John P. Kennedy’s Swallow Barn with my illustrations and also Harper’s Magazine with the “Porte Crayon” series…

As I’m very much interested in what people were reading before the war, this quickly caught my attention.

NIt also caught my attention for another reason… in fact, recently, I was able to secure my own copy of Kennedy’s 1853 edition of Swallow Barn (G.P. Putnam and Co., New York). Published originally in the 1830s, the work found revived life… not only as a result of Strother’s prints in the book, but also as it was used as a common counter to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

If you are unfamiliar with Kennedy’s book, I highly recommend this overview, courtesy of the Documenting the American South site.

In closing, just a few images from my volume… as we consider how Strother felt, on this day, 150 years ago, as he found a copy of the same in the Grey family home.

My copy of Swallow Barn, laid across the top of the Strother's bio.

My copy of Swallow Barn, laid across the top of my copy of A Virginia Yankee in the Civil War (Strother’s diary of the war).





I wonder… do you think he was thinking differently, at this time, in 1864, about the images he created for the work in the 1850s?