I do enjoy perusing the Confederate Heritage Facebook pages. The topic of black Confederates is a favorite among these folks. Many of the images and other references are new to me, but more importantly their handling of this “evidence” serves as a reminder of just how incapable some people are in applying even the most rudimentary skills of interpretation. Instead, as can be seen in the comments section, these postings do little more than offer reassurance to the true believers and reinforce a strict us v. them mentality.
I am surprised that I have not come across this particular image by Civil War artist Don Troiani. Most of you know that over the years I’ve owned a number of his prints, including a giclee edition of “Mahone’s Charge” which I used as the cover art for my book. A few months ago I learned that Troiani painted a USCT. This particular image is included in Don Troiani’s Regiments & Uniforms of the Civil War on p. 208. It depicts what Troiani calls a “Black Trooper” in the 4th Tennessee Cavalry at Chickamauga in September 1863. Continue reading
A number of my friends on Facebook are sharing a pic of the new release by Don Troiani. This new watercolor of a private in the 4th United States Colored Troop is, if I am not mistaken, Troiani’s first stand alone black soldier since his 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry print, which was done a number of years ago. I absolutely love it and I am very close to clicking the “Pay Now” button at my PayPal account. Than again, my birthday is coming up soon and my wife is always looking for that perfect gift that shows her undying love for me.
Before moving to Boston I owned a fairly large collection of framed Troiani prints. Unfortunately, I knew I wouldn’t have room in my new library/office and I couldn’t bear keeping them in the basement so I sold them. I still have a giclee edition of “Mahone’s Charge” which is featured on the cover of my book as well as two regimental prints.
It is hard not to see this new release as a direct result of the popularity of Spielberg’s Lincoln and the broader emphasis on the history of black Union soldiers during the Sesquicentennial. We shall see if it sells.
Don Troiani's "The Last Salute"
I think Gary Gallagher makes a pretty good case for why black soldiers were not present at the Grand Review in Washington D.C. in May 1865. He argues that their absence had little to do with scheming politicians and military brass, who hoped to keep it an all-white affair. The parade was made up primarily of units that were in the process of being demobilized. Since black units were raised later in the war they remained stationed in various parts of the South.
In contrast, black troops under Edward O.C. Ord’s command were at Appomattox Court House in April 1865. Anyone who has read William Marvel’s books on the march out of the Petersburg trenches and surrender knows that these units were kept in camp behind their white comrades once the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered. Before the surrender ceremony on April 12 these men were ordered away from Appomattox. Marvel suggests that this was done “for the sake of serenity.” That seems like a reasonable explanation.
One wonders how their presence might have shaped an account of a salute that may or may not have taken place.
Update – 06/26/11: All of the Prints Have Been Sold.
"79th New York State Highlanders"
I am putting up for sale my collection of framed Don Troiani Civil War prints, which I’ve been collecting since 2000. All of them were purchased through an authorized Troiani dealer in Fredercksburg, Virginia and include certificates of authenticity. I am going to include an asking price, but please feel free to make an offer. This is your chance to own your favorite Troiani print at a reasonable price. I will take photographs of specific prints if interested, but they are all in superb condition. Note: Click the status report link for the print’s current value.
Buyer will pay for shipping. Happy shopping.
I think he needs it. Here are just a few of my favorite images of Robert E. Lee that I would be proud to have hanging in my office.
[left to right: "The Last Meeting of Lee and Jackson" by Everett B.D. Julio, "General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Va" by L.M.D. Guillaume, "General Robert E. Lee at Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862" by Henry A. Ogden, and "Until Sundown" by Don Troiani (this print hangs in my office) - I was unable to find one of my favorites of Lee by Edward C. Bruce, but you can find a copy of it in Gallagher's recent book on movies and art, p. 160.]
So, among the other things we disagree about, throw in art. Good work, Richard. Do you feel better now? By the way, what are your favorite images of Lee? And how about you, dear reader?
Note: I just realized that my preferred images of Lee are military and in the heat of battle. Perhaps, this comes back to the factt that I see Lee’s importance to the Civil War as strictly military. Yes, I am interested in his broader narrative, but in the end his relevance always reduces to his record and performance on the field. I am willing to wager that there are more artistic renditions of Lee outside of his role as general. Has this ever happened with any other general in American history? If not, why?