The Face of the Manassas Civil War Sesquicentennial

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I find it interesting that the designer chose not to use the more visible and controversial Confederate battle flag and the soldier depicted here is not from Virginia.  [See story here]

26 comments… add one

  • Ken Noe Oct 4, 2010

    For First Manassas anyway, the battle flag would be anachronistic. Still, there may be complaints. A friend who works at an early battle park tells me that they get angry letters every years for being “politically correct” and not flying the battle flag. He always has to explain that no Confederate troops carried it in that battle either.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 4, 2010

      Good point Ken, but I doubt that the decision was made out of a concern for the historical record. If that were the case I assume they would not have used the image of a soldier from Georgia.

      • Andy Hall Oct 4, 2010

        There were lots of Georgia units at First Manassas. That the soldier in the design is from a state other than Virginia, I think, is a good thing, as it highlights the wide and varied makeup of what later became the AoNV. I’m not as happy with the fact that this specific soldier was not involved in that particular action, which strikes me as misleading.

        • Kevin Levin Oct 4, 2010

          Andy,

          I definitely don’t mean to make a big deal of it. The designer thought that the face captured something significant.

        • Craig Swain Oct 4, 2010

          Andy, why is it misleading that the soldier himself never fought at Manassas? I’d give the artist thumbs up for actually using a Civil War photo, as opposed to some reenactor dressed up in the garb. Heck, at least he picked a soldier from a regiment that fought in Virginia, although the “western” part.

          • Andy Hall Oct 4, 2010

            I’ve been accused in the past of being too-literal-minded. That may be the case here.

            • Ken Noe Oct 4, 2010

              No, I agree with you on this one, Andy. What is it Reid Mitchell wrote about soldiers’ fears that they would become nameless, faceless cogs in a war machine? This treats Askew like an generic, interchangeable cog, and the result is indeed “misleading.”

              • A Guy Oct 7, 2010

                Hello!

                As the artist who designed the logotype, I am glad that you all are finding many things of interest it the mark…it was intended to be detailed and authentic enough, in some ways, to spark discussion. It is gratifying that you are having one now about William Askew and the Flag.

                To be clear, no conscious thought to political correctness, either way, was given in the creation of this mark. Rather, historical relevance and accuracy and the creation of a proper sense of purpose was paramount. This mark represents an incredible, serious time in our history and so, hopefully, has the gravity to communicate a small part of the weight of the events that took place.

                The Battle Flag was not used as it was not in use at First Manassas, as far as I know. Also, the First National is just that-the First National Flag of a new nation. It seemed only proper to use that encompassing symbol in this mark.

                I have relatives that were from/fought in Northern Virginia (with ARNVA, MD Cavalry Co D, the three relatives in that outfit were named Welsh, among others) so would have liked nothing more than to use a local boy in this logotype. That was my intent. Old Town Manassas is my hometown.

                However, scrolling through many images, his just jumped out at me. That is it…it just registered. Don’t really know how or why, but the combination of his age, stance, plain face, but a face with a mixture of grit and fear…and his eyes. His eyes stare right through you. So…I tried him out in layouts and he increasingly gained acceptance in the development process.

                That he was from Georgia is fine as well, in that he did fight in Virginia, not the far west, not in a raid on Canada or in a blockage run off of Mobile. He tramped his feet from a far away home to Virginia to fight for what he considered to be his country, doing his duty. Who am I to question that?

                Actually, that being said, perhaps that is what helps make this mark all the more encompassing, of broader relevance. Not a cog, but a person that could be anyone, from anywhere…but wasn’t. He was not a passive bit of machinery, but an active participant, fighter and witness.

                That is how I think of William Askew, anyway.

                Maybe you disagree with the thought process behind my artwork, but I thought you might be interested in what was going on in my head while I created it. I also had the generous help of the staff at the Manassas Museum, including Jane Riley, Lisa Seival-Otten and curator Roxana Adams.

                More comments certainly welcome-I really enjoy your thoughts! And if one of you can help me ID the weaponry, rifle and side arms stuck in his belt, it would be a boon. The pistols, actually, seems round handled and smooth, almost like a derringer, but larger and with a bit of a cock hammer. Any guesses?

                Best,

                Allan Guy
                A. Guy Studio, L.L.C.
                http://www.aguystudio.com

                • Kevin Levin Oct 7, 2010

                  Mr. Guy,

                  Thanks so much for sharing your own thought process with us surrounding the creation of the logo. It is very helpful.

  • Marianne Davis Oct 4, 2010

    Could the designer have been reacting to the charges of Virginia-centrism, bordering on Virginia chauvinism, that I have seen discussed here and elsewhere? Lest we forget, there were men there from the Union as well.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 4, 2010

      Perhaps, but the purpose of these local commissions is to highlight local history. To a certain extent, they are intended to be Virginia- even Manassas-centric.

      • Craig Swain Oct 4, 2010

        There are not a great number of portraits of soldiers native to Manassas Junction around for use. Indeed on a recent marker project I was involved with, we had difficultly locating a suitable photo of ANY soldier from Northern Virginia (suitable as in image resolution, documentation, proper time period etc.) that did not spell his name John Mosby.

        And I don’t really see where you are going with “they are intended to be Virginia- even Manassas-centric.” Are all these commissions supposed to focus narrowly on the subject? Is that part of their charter?

        • Kevin Levin Oct 4, 2010

          Craig,

          Like I said, I am not making a big deal of this. I simply wanted to share the logo that the local committee has decided to use. All I meant to suggest was that it is not surprising if a local committee chooses to take a close look at the impact of the war in their respective communities. That’s not mean in any way as a criticism.

    • A Guy Oct 7, 2010

      Nope.

      As a Virginian, I would be proud to be blatantly Virginio-centrist! ;-) But the mark carries none of that, at least not consciously.

      It is a Southern mark, in a way, the typography is of the period and a bit more reminiscent of the South, perhaps, and William Askew, the soldier boy pictured, is from Georgia…but I had to pick a subject and the side choice was a fair 50/50.

      It is what it is…call it pro-South? Might have more of a case for that than pro-Virginian. But please note that even the color of his uniform is a rather middle of the road grey, skewed to the traditional Southern butternut, but it could have been a uniform worn by either side. The North wore grey at different times, too.

      In the end the mark is intended to honor all, but avoiding nothing, especially on politically correct grounds.

      Note, though, to create a mark that reflects a place and a purpose, that being the Manassas/Prince William County Civil War Sesquicentennial. This is Manassas, Virginia, after all.

  • mcvouty Oct 4, 2010

    I’m actually impressed that the artist went with the original “Stars and Bars” flag. But the middle row of stars should be offset if that’s meant to be the 34-star U.S. flag.

    And that looks like a stainless-steel rifle and bayonet to me. If there is such a thing, I want one.

    • A Guy Oct 7, 2010

      Dear McVouty-the Union flag is supposed to be the 34 star version. I was given the correct flag for reference and I believe it is the one used. SHould be accurate…let me check on that and get back to you! …I was lucky to have the excellent staff at the maMassas Museum helping out, keeping me “honest.” Your point is well taken and will be checked.

      Many thanks-

      Allan Guy
      http://www.aguystudio.com

  • Dick Stanley Oct 4, 2010

    I like it, though I wonder if the slouch was not more representative than the kepi.

    • A Guy Oct 7, 2010

      Dear Mr. Stanley-

      The image of WIlliam Askew has him only in a kepi. I am not sure which hat would have been more revalant overall, though I suppose it depends, in part, on the numbers of individuals in their respective units. More privates in the army versus sailors in the navy, that sort of thing.

      Askew was in the cavalry, so one might assume he had an appropriate change of uniform when in that service, but I have no record of it.

      Best,

      Allan Guy
      http://www.aguystudio.com

  • Joey Gee Oct 5, 2010

    I am more upset at the “Battle” is going to have more in common with a SCA or country fair more than the actual battle. That grosses me out more than anything else.

    • Andy Hall Oct 5, 2010

      Cannot possibly be as bad as the Royal Navy’s official bicentennial commemoration of the Battle of Trafalgar where, in order not to offend the sensibilities of their now-allies in NATO, France and Spain, the battle reenactment was fought between “Red” and “Blue.”

      • Joey Gee Oct 5, 2010

        I don’t know. Everytime I think the Hobby takes a step forward it takes 2 steps back. I feel that the upcoming Anniversary Megafests will do something to bring the ACW to the front and cause many people to get an interest but the education they will recieve from the “mainstream” enactors will be junk. Personally I will stick to the Battefield parks and other historic sites to help show people what is was like.

  • Dick Stanley Oct 5, 2010

    Maybe they could find a few hundred volunteers willing to be killed in order to make the reenactment more realistic. Of course someone would just complain about all the body parts.

    • Joey Gee Oct 5, 2010

      Maybe they should. Let’s start with the Lost Causers and then round it out with the Polyester wearing pistol packing farb reenactors. Heck what am I saying? A lot of them are the same person. LOL

  • Bob Oct 5, 2010

    I live here in Prince William County and can say with great knowledge that the aritst use this image NOT because of where he was or not from…but because he liked the image. Its not as deep as some of you have portrayed. The First National was used because, that what was used during the Battle of First Manassas. This designer, for anyone who knows him, is an “artist” first and “historian” last….so its more about his personal style than history. Plus he was paid BIG bucks for this…more than probably deserved.

    • A Guy Oct 7, 2010

      Thanks Bob…well said! And I am lucky to be able to try to combine my love of art and history to be a better armchair historian. Hope I can do that. Hope I can work hard enough during the next four years to earn the “big bucks” I was paid to work on this ongoing commission, as well. My 89 Jeep needs new brakes ;-)

      Best,

      Allan Guy
      http://www.aguystudio.com

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