Gen. Robert E. Lee’s home in Virginia.
The previously unknown photograph depicts Selina Gray, the head housekeeper to Lee and his family, along with two girls. The photograph was unveiled Thursday at the Arlington House plantation overlooking the nation’s capital that was home to Lee and dozens of slaves before the Civil War. An inscription on the back of the image reads “Gen Lees Slaves Arlington Va.”
Park officials said this is only the second known photograph taken of slaves at Arlington.
“It’s extremely rare to have an identified photo of an enslaved person,” said National Park Service spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles. “Since slaves were considered property, it’s very rare to have a photo where you can identify the people in the photo.”
Gray is noted in history books for helping to save Arlington House after Lee’s family left and the plantation was captured by Union troops during the Civil War. Arlington House was originally built as a monument to George Washington. Lee’s wife, Mary Curtis Lee, entrusted the home to Gray, and she later confronted a Union general about soldiers pilfering Washington family heirlooms from the house. She was able to have the items safeguarded.
The photograph was purchased on eBay in September for $700 after a volunteer found it online. The seller was based in England and found the photo in a box of unwanted images. The nonprofit Save Arlington House Inc. donated funds to acquire the image.
The photograph will be unveiled to the public Saturday, and it will be used in future exhibits after Arlington House and its slave quarters are restored over the next two years. Historians will study the image and hope to learn more about it.
Civil War History for the month of October
October 4, 1862 Daniel Webster Jones, future governor of Arkansas, was shot and taken prisoner by Union forces in Corinth, MS.
October 10, 1837 Col. Robert Gould Shaw, U. S. Born
October 10, 1862 Leonidas Polk, the first Episcopal Bishop of Arkansas, was promoted to Lt. General in the Confederate Army
October 19, 1864 Battle of Cedar Creek
October 20, 1819 Gen. Daniel E. Sickles, U.S. born
October 21, 1861 Battle of Ball’s Bluff
October 21, 1861 Guerrilla leader Howell A. “Doc” Rayburn joined the Conf. Army, enlisting Co. C, 12th Texas Cavalry
October 23, 1864 Federal and Conf. forces met just outside of present day Bryant (Saline County) in a minor engagement known as the skirmish oat Hurricane Creek
October 25, 1863 The action at Pine Bluff ended in Union victory
October 27, 1862 Union Colonel William Dewey surprised Conf. Col. John Q. Burbridge’s brigade at Pitman’s Ferry
(from Legends in Gray Calendar, 2014 and The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture calendar, 2011)
Hope to see all Tuesday night for a wonderful program.
Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas
2nd Presbyterian Church
September 23, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
President, Jan Sarna, called the meeting to order.
A quorum was present.
Motion was made, seconded & passed to accept the August meeting minutes.
Treasurer’s Report: We have $2,191.38 in our checking account. Pris has contacted Google ads and we should be getting $470.00 from them. Motion was made, seconded & passed to accept the Treasurer’s report.
We are still needing a person to volunteer as the Chairperson for the Arkansas Civil War Heritage Trail. The position was held by Rick Meadows. This is a volunteer position. It was asked of this group for a volunteer to take over this position. This question will be asked again at the October meeting.
Our speaker, Jan Sarna, introduced himself.
Meeting was adjourned and the next meeting will be October 28, 2014.
The Arkansas Toothpick (arkansastoothpick.com) now hosts a fun trivia quiz every week to keep our readers coming back for more. If you get too many wrong, you might be accused of being a carpet bagger, or even worse: a Yankee! If you have any ideas on a upcoming quiz, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.