Really Bad Civil War Art

This latest edition of Really Bad Civil War Art comes to us from artist, Roberta Wesley.  This print is titled, “Rebel Yell” and is inspired by her own ancestor, who fought in the “22nd Infantry.”  Apparently, these men took into battle the Confederate flag currently flying over the junction of Interstates 4 and 72 outside of Tampa, Florida.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

19 comments… add one
  • Robert Welch Mar 15, 2011 @ 12:45

    I found this today, and was wondering if we could add this to the list of bad Civil War art.

    If you hurry, you can get a free General Jackson figurine with your next installment!

  • Mark Mar 8, 2011 @ 11:09

    Hey, at least the gray-haired guy wielding the sword looks like a stereotypical Confederate re-enactor. On second thought, he might be too thin.

  • Emily Hill Mar 7, 2011 @ 12:48

    Dear Jeffry and Kevin,
    What sweet, generous people…love teach-able moments that are not aspersions that ‘project’ to the other person’s intentions…

    Okay! I’ve learned — a lot! Thank you very much ;D


    • Jeffry Burden Mar 7, 2011 @ 13:29


      I must apologize – I gave you my art review without addressing the specific questions you asked.

      It’s not bad art because it depicts the battle flag. Lots of “good” art could have the CBF in it. The mere presence of the CBF, for me , does not make it suspect. This is bad art because it’s bad art – unimaginative, simplistically organized, overwhelming in pseudo-emotional force while lacking in emotional depth, pandering to a political stance and not to human feeling. I mean, c’mon – that guy in front looks like he’s from the Ministry of Silly Walks.

      That said, I had never heard of Roberta Wesley before today, and make no judgment on her overall talent, her political leanings, her style sense, etc. She may well be a lovely woman and our next great painter. This work, however, is not proof of her merit as an artist, and it has nothing necessarily to do with the fact the CBF is in the painting.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 7, 2011 @ 14:01

      I should also admit that I have a large collection of prints by artist, Don Troiani. In my humble opinion his work is a cut above the rest. A number of his prints include Confederate battle flags.

  • Emily Hill Mar 7, 2011 @ 9:32

    Okay, too much a novice to know ‘bad art’ from ‘good art’, so I’ll reserve my opinion on the whether’s of this ‘art’ … maybe I wouldn’t hang it in my living room … but to my question:

    Today, is there a mandate of political correctness to view the Confederate flag solely as diversionary? i.e. Do people look at it as SOLELY a ‘call to racism’ or does anyone look at it ‘in its moment’ as a symbol of a past era and a lost cause? i.e. Shall we ALL spit on it? Is the art of Wesley’s ancestor ‘bad art’ because it depicts the Confederate flag? Or, technically, is it ‘bad’ art?

    • Kevin Levin Mar 7, 2011 @ 9:40

      I highly recommend reading John Coski’s wonderful study of the history of the Confederate flag: As for this particular piece I just think it’s really bad art. Thanks for the comment, Emily.

  • Charles Mar 7, 2011 @ 5:35

    There is also one further up I75 going toward Georgia . I have also seen one on I75 in south Georgia. I can’t remember what exits they are near. I just remember seeing them.

    • Jeffry Burden Mar 7, 2011 @ 10:47

      Emily, I think historical art is difficult to pull off well. There’s a fine line between moving and goofy, between conveying true emotion artistically and conveying a dumbed-down literalism. It’s even more difficult when doing a generic scene like this that’s not based on a particular event or specific people. If just seeing a battle flag puts a lump in your throat, than this may be fine. But objectively speaking, “Rebel Yell” is nothing more than an in-your-face dose of rootin’, tootin’ rebeldom that is all sex and no cigarette.

      My wife wouldn’t take kindly to historical stuff hanging in the house, but if she did, an example of interesting such art that might pass muster is “Death of an Army” by Don Troiani. The key is what it’s conveying artistically: that moment before the deadly charge at Franklin, with Gen. Cleburne pointing his sword in the direction of the enemy, knowing the impending advance likely meant his death and that of his command. It’s the suggestion of action, while itself being almost static — the last quiet moment — that makes it interesting and moving. Troiani’s not even my favored historical artist; I think Keith Rocco produces the most consistently compelling such work.

      Long story short: there’s a lot better stuff out there than this dreck. PS: always avoid puffy shirts.

  • Charles Mar 7, 2011 @ 5:33

    I thought I had seen that flag before?

  • James F. Epperson Mar 7, 2011 @ 3:53

    There is no I-72 in Tampa. I-75, perhaps? (We wouldn’t want folks confused on where to find that flag, would we?)

  • Stephen Graham Mar 6, 2011 @ 21:10

    Is there where we point out that there’s no Littleton Hooten in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors? And no Hootens in the 22d Alabama?

    • Kevin Levin Mar 7, 2011 @ 1:55

      Why am I not surprised.

  • Andy Hall Mar 6, 2011 @ 16:20

    I thought “moonlight and magnolias” was just a figure of speech. I was wrong.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 6, 2011 @ 16:22

      Glad to see you found something for your living room. 🙂

  • Woodrowfan Mar 6, 2011 @ 16:11

    judging from the directions they are firing, they seem to be almost surrounded by Yankees…

    • Jeffry Burden Mar 6, 2011 @ 17:44

      I can’t help but conclude that the high-steppin’ fellow in front thinks he’s at a hoedown.

  • Corey Meyer Mar 6, 2011 @ 16:06

    The author explained her inspiration for the picture as thus…

    “Littleton Berry Hooten was one of the nameless soldiers who fought and somehow survived all the numerous bloody battles of the 22nd Infantry.”

    Is it possible to be a nameless soldier after you have been named?

    Just curious.

    • Brooks D. Simpson Mar 6, 2011 @ 20:20

      The Soldiers and Sailors database offers a different first name for Private Hooten.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *