While researching annotations for my great-great-grandfather Charles' Civil War diary, I followed up on his reference to Brandy Station, Virginia, where he was sent in April of 1864 for medical care ("a rather poor place for a sick man," he declared).
It turns out the building in which he would have received treatment is now known as the "Graffiti House", because the walls of the second floor contain inscriptions, drawings, messages, and signatures of Civil War soldiers that were concealed under wallpaper, etc. for many years. The graffiti, according to the Brandy Station Foundation website, "could have been made by soldiers recuperating in the hospital, by other soldiers posted at Brandy Station, or by soldiers passing through the town." There are signatures, drawings, and of particular interest to engrossers (check out that shading!), the "Maryland Scroll". At one point the scroll was removed from the house and acquired by a private collector, but later returned to the Graffiti House in its frame.
|"Maryland Scroll", Graffiti House, Brandy Station VA|
|"Maryland Scroll" detail, Graffiti House, Brandy Station VA|
The building changed possession from the South to the North, and a Union soldier made his mark thusly:
|"Army of the United States of America", Graffiti House, Brandy Station VA|
Love the flourishing!
About a year ago, a stabilizing process was begun on the plaster walls and lo and behold, another signature was uncovered. This is what Michael Sull might call "pedestrian Spencerian", but I think the "F" and "E" caps are pretty cool! I'm guessing they are about a foot tall.
I find it inspiring that at one time, handwriting was a skill that many could do so beautifully, even in pencil on a plaster wall. By the way, here's what the building looked like when the Foundation acquired it:
Cheers for the preservationists!