Tag Archives: Robert E. Lee

Mark Twain: Lost Cause Art Critic

Everett-B-D-Julio_XX_The-Last-Meeting-Of-Lee-And-Jackson-1864_XX_Museum-Of-The-Confederacy-Richmond-VirginiaWith the help of my book credits earned through Amazon’s affiliate program I recently purchased The Civil War and American Art. It’s incredible.  While I enjoy looking at art, I don’t spend nearly enough time reading about it. In the introduction I came across Everett B.D. Fabrino Julio’s The Last Meeting of Lee and Jackson, which as many of you know is located at the Museum of the Confederacy. I did not know that Julio initially offered the painting to Lee himself as a gift, who politely refused. I mean, where would you put it given the painting’s dimensions.

For a time it was on public display in New Orleans, which is where Mark Twain viewed it. Here is his colorful review.

[I]n the Washington Artillery building…we saw…a fine oil-painting representing Stonewall Jackson’s last interview with General Lee. Both men are on horseback. Jackson has just ridden up, and is accosting Lee. The picture is very valuable, on account of the portraits, which are authentic. But like many another historical picture, it means nothing without its label. And one label will fit it as well as another:

First Interview between Lee and Jackson.

Last Interview between Lee and Jackson.

Jackson introducing himself to Lee.

Jackson Accepting Lee’s Invitation to Dinner.

Jackson Declining Lee’s Invitation to Dinner–with Thanks.

Jackson Apologizing for a Heavy Defeat.

Jackson Reporting a Great Victory.

Jackson Asking Lee for a Match.

It tells one story, and a sufficient one; for it says quite plainly and satisfactorily, “Here are Lee and Jackson together.” The artist would have made it tell that this is Lee and Jackson’s last interview if he could have done it. But he couldn’t, for there wasn’t any way to do it. A good legible label is usually worth, for information, a ton of significant attitude and expression in a historical picture.

Clearly, Twain’s brief stint in Confederate ranks did little for his respect for the Lost Cause. And for that we thank him.

 

I’ve Seen the Future of Civil War History…

…but it may take me some time to sort through it all.  Had a great time in Gettysburg this weekend.  I was challenged intellectually.  I caught up with old friends and even made a few new ones.  It’s the kind of weekend that leaves you exhausted, but rejuvenated and ready to tackle new projects.

For now I want to leave you with an image that Jonathan Noyalas analyzed in a panel on teaching Civil War memory that I took part in on Friday.  Enjoy.

Duffs Rebel Restaurant from Noyalas

 

Robert E. Lee: The Last Best Hope of Earth

Leave it to Lee-Jackson Day to bring out the crazies. According to Henry Kidd, Robert E. Lee saved this country by agreeing to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox rather than disband it to fight in a guerrilla war that would have turned this country into something like Bosnia.  Perhaps I am mistaken, but wouldn’t a Confederate victory also have led to the fracturing of the United States? So much for Lincoln, Grant, and the Union army playing a role in saving this nation. At some point I was hoping to see the interviewer bust out in uncontrollable laughter in response to such a ridiculous statement. That we live in a society that grants any legitimacy to such a position is all the reason I need to continue to teach.