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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.



Grandest Charge Ever Seen, The - limited edition print
Barksdale's Missippippians at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863




It had been called "The Grandest Charge Ever Seen by Mortal Man." Just the phrase alone seemed to demand a painting. General William Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade and their famous charge at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863 had so many exciting elements that it seemed hard to believe that no painting had ever been done of the scene.

Barksdale, a huge, balding man with long white hair, led the charge on a black horse, waving his hat and screaming orders through the din. Captain G.B. Lamar, Jr., an eyewitness to the advance, wrote of Barksdale, "He was in front of his brigade, hat off, and his long, white hair reminded me of the white plume of Navarre." In addition to this was the fact that the Mississippi Brigade made up of the 13th, 17th, 18th, and 21st regiments overran the 114th Pennsylvania, a Zouave unit like that, unlike most Zouave units, retained its original Zouave uniforms until the end of the war. This was certainly an opportunity for some dramatic use of color. But it was also an opportunity to show both forces in close hand to hand combat, something that occurred rarely throughout the war.

The late hour of the charge, 6:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. E.D.T.), with its resulting low sun was also an important pictorial element that gave me the chance to use dramatic lighting effects that would not have been possible if it had taken place at an earlier hour. The sunlight catches Barksdale and the flag as well as the Sherfy barn in the left background, reconstructed on the present battlefield at its original location next to the Sherfy house. The men at the right charge up the hill from the west out of a small apple orchard and near a worm fence in the foreground that ran across the field at that time.

The rendering of the 13th Mississippi Regimental flag is based on the one that still survives at the Mississippi State Historical Museum in Jackson.

This is the sixth painting I have done of the Battle of Gettysburg, beginning with High Water Mark two years ago, and I hope it becomes a long lasting tribute to the men of both sides who fought for what they believed in on that fateful day.

Date Created: 1990

Medium: Oil on canvas

Image Size: 26" x 48"

Signature Location: Signed and dated lower left: M Kunstler '90

 

 
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 © 2001-2017. 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.