Watercolor sketches attributed to Private John Jacob Omenhausser, Co. A, 46 th Virginia Infantry who was captured near Petersburg in 1864 and transferred to Point Lookout Prison Camp where he remained incarcerated for nearly one year. Point Lookout was a miserable overpopulated camp offering inadequate shelter, lacking adequate clothing, blankets, and rations. The guards perpetrated violence against the prisoners.
The artist is known to have been a candymaker before the war, however his passion was journalism . He produced watercolor sketches documenting events and daily prison life as he observed during his yearlong imprisonment. Omenhausser may have traded his artistic skills... his sketches, as a medium of exchange with Union officers for extra rations, blankets, and other amenities of survival.
These works, each with annotations describing the scenes present a rare firsthand glimpse of daily life within the walls of the infamous camps as memorialized by John Jacob Ommenhausser during is internment. As an example - Prisoners were allowed to fish the bay to augment meals. See the drawing depicting "Capt. J. W. BARNES ASST, PROV. MARSHAL" annotation No. 4, "Here's your Mackerell [sic] for your Bread"... 5. Here's your tobacco for your fish.
These detailed sketches are believed to have originated in one of four sketchbooks.
They were obviously removed from a sketch pad or book.
Titles: STEAM ENGINE MADE BY A CONFEDERATE PRISONER AT POINT
TOBACCO PEDLERS [sic]
Capt. J. W. BARNES ASST, PROV. MARSHAL
ENTRANCE TO THE PRISONER'S CAMP
Measurement: View: 8.125" x 5.75"
Material: Watercolor and pencil on paper [probably sent by his family]
Condition: Fine, excellent original condition, each displaying strong color
Literature: Renditions of all but "Tobacco Pedlers" [sic] are published within Point Lookout Prison Camp For Confederates (1983) by Edwin W. Beitzell and in "I Am Busy Drawing Pictures" - The Civil War Art and Letters of Private John Jacob Omenhausser, CSA by Ross Kimmel and Michael Musik. Also, Sketches From Prison: A Confederate Artist's Record Of Life at Point Lookout Prisoner-Of-War Camp, 1863-1865 (1990).