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Image Size: 17 3/4" x 26 3/4".
Overall Size: 23 3/4" x 31 3/4".
2000 Limited Edition Numbered and Signed.
500 Virginia Tech Edition Numbered and Signed.
250 Internet Edition Numbered and Signed.
100 Artist's Proofs Numbered and Signed.
It was nothing like their early dreams of war. Federal forces had invaded the Shenandoah Valley, and an army of Southern soldiers had been dispatched to protect their homeland. Their objective was the Shenandoah Valley hamlet of Romney, where the Northern army was encamped - but the Valley weather, not the Yankees, proved to be the fiercest enemy. Less than a year earlier, these sons of the South had rushed to arms, filled with romantic notions of gallantry and glory. Now they faced the reality of life in the field.
Deep snow and bitterly cold temperatures had transformed their march into a grueling ordeal. Reported a Confederate officer: "The road was almost an uninterrupted sheet of ice, rendering it almost impossible for man or beast to travel, while by moonlight the beards of the men, matted with ice, glistened like crystals…" Recalled another: "If a man had told me 12 months ago that men could stand such hardships, I would have called him a fool."
Despite the almost unbearable conditions, they persevered - led by a relentless warrior: General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. Determined to do his duty and rid the Shenandoah Valley of invaders, Jackson drove his troops forward day and night through the snow, wind and ice. Soon, as if awed by Jackson's sheer willpower as much as the savage weather, Federal forces retreated without doing battle. Left behind was a horde of supplies and weapons to be confiscated by the jubilant Confederates. Months ahead, in the spring and summer to come, awaited greater glory: Jackson's brilliant, victorious Valley Campaign. It too would be won by the same determination and endurance that had enabled Stonewall Jackson and his "foot cavalry" to win the winter war.
A great source of inspiration for my paintings has been the work of the highly esteemed author and historian, Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. His new best-selling biography, Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend, is no exception. His vivid description of Jackson's winter expedition from Winchester to Romney, West Virginia, was the primary inspiration for The Winds of Winter.
The campaign began on January 1, 1862, on a deceptively spring-like day. Many of the inexperienced soldiers chose to leave behind their overcoats. That afternoon, a northwest wind began blowing and the temperatures soon plummeted. The hardships increased along with the bitter cold. The men suffered from lack of food and from inadequate clothing and shelter. Over the course of the two-week march, the troops experienced the most arduous conditions imaginable, including almost impassable roads, freezing temperatures and unrelenting snow, wind, sleet and rain. The horses also struggled. "Icicles of blood hung from the horses," states Dr. Robertson in Stonewall Jackson.
Directing the grueling march was General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, the Old Testament-style warrior who, by sheer force of his willpower and personality, was able to drive men to do what was considered impossible. The torch held by one of Jackson's aides shows the army strung out across the wintry landscape, and illustrates how far they still have to travel to reach bivouac. This heroic struggle against the elements is what I have tried to portray in The Winds of Winter.