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The Art of Mort Künstler / The American Spirit / The Civil War

Here you will find a pictorial chronicle of the drama and excitement of American History. These paintings give the viewer an insight into the tumultuous life of this young nation that mere words cannot achieve.



Dilger at Gettysburg - limited edition print
July 1, 1863




This limited edition print is SOLD OUT

LIMITED EDITION PRINT
Paper Prints

Reproduction technique: Fine offset lithography on neutral pH archival quality paper using the finest fade-resistant inks.
Each print is numbered and signed by the artist and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.


Image Size: 16" x 24" • Overall Size: 21 1/4" x 29"
Signed & Numbered • Edition Size: 950
Signed Artist's Proof • Edition Size: 50

Mort Künstler's Comments
I feel that the special danger an artilleryman faced is often ignored in Civil War circles, and Dilger was one of the most famous artillerists of the war. Captain John Hubert Dilger was one of the most famous artillerists of the war period, his fame being made on numerous battlefields. During the action at Gettysburg on July 1st, he ordered two of his guns forward of the main battleline without infantry support. This type of bold action was unheard of at the time, and this is the moment which I have depicted in my painting.

Captain Dilger, while under fire, has ordered a section (two guns) forward to the north, to get a more advantageous position against Confederate guns on Oak Hill. The section's lieutenant leads the off-lead horse which is shying from the gunfire. A corporal with the battery guidon rides next to the lead driver. The first six horses are pulling the limber that pulls the cannon itself, and following them is the caisson. Not counting the drivers, each gun usually had ten men to service it, the gunners riding on the limber chest. To the rear is the second gun of the section, and you can see the tremendous danger that the artillerymen were under in this sort of action. Gunners and drivers were completely exposed , and had to perform their duties and handle their six horse team under the most difficult conditions possible.

Dilger's men were exceptional and his battery performed a heroic service that day by later holding off Confederate infantry without infantry support. This gave enough to retreating Union troops to form the secondary line of defense on Cemetery Hill. Dilger, or "Old Leather Breeches" as his men called him, was an expert gunner as well as a bold captain. At one point in the action, he personally aimed and fired one of his guns so accurately that it struck the muzzle of the opposing Confederate piece!

The charge took place across open farmland, mostly wheat fields and pasture. We can see, in the lower right corner, where shells have hit wisps of dry wheat are catching fire. I studied the various, and researched the horse equipment such as harnesses, saddles, and the gun carriages and implements. The time of day was around four in the afternoon when the section rushed out to the north. To get the correct lighting effect, I visited the actual site. Sunlight breaks through the heavy smoke to the right or west of the picture. The two artillery pieces on the far right of the picture are where the battery was posted and where the battery's monument stands today.

In the background is the 'Old Dorm' of then, Pennsylvania College. Today, it is Gettysburg College, and the building still stands, basically unchanged after 126 years. It is hard to see the building today from the position where Dilger's men stood, due to the growth of the town. Luckily the small field where Dilger's section charged forward still survives.

Hopefully, the perilous life of the artilleryman can be a little better appreciated with this painting, and the incredible danger of artillery charge has been brought to life.


 

 
All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2018. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.