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Reproduction technique: Fine offset lithography on neutral pH archival quality paper using the finest fade-resistant inks.
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Paper Signed and Numbered
Image Size: 11.5” x 28.5” • Overall Size: 17.5” x 33.5" • Edition Size: 1100 • Issue Price: $200.00
Release Date: 1999
Paper Artist’s Proof
Image Size: 11.5” x 28.5” • Overall Size: 17.5” x 33.5" • Edition Size: 100 • Issue Price: $350.00
Release Date: 1999 • Availability: Available
Museum Edition Paper Signed and Numbered
Image Size: 11.5” x 28.5” • Overall Size: 17.5” x 33.5" • Edition Size: 250 • Issue Price: $200.00
Release Date: 1999
It was a joyful parade for the men in gray. General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, at peak strength and again victorious, marched northward through Virginia Shenandoah Valley. Fresh from a decisive victory over federal forces at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Lee's army was now taking the war to the North. Lee hoped to resupply his troops with Yankee crops and livestock, threaten Harrisburg, Philadelphia or Washington, and win the mighty victory that would earn a nationhood for the embattled South.
The residents of the Shenandoah Valley, who had been under constant threat by enemy forces for two years, welcomed Lee's army with jubilation. By the time the 26th North Carolina infantry marched through Front Royal with the rest of General A.P. Hill's corps, the town citizens were in a state of celebration. Led by their heralded band, the troops of the 26th passed by as if on review. Women waved their handkerchiefs, children marched alongside the soldiers, and all cheered the Gray-uniformed sons of the South. At Gettysburg, Lee's army - including the 26th North Carolina - would help break the Federal line on July 1, and would go the distance in the Pickett-Pettigrew Charge. But the cost to the regiment would be shocking: its casualty rate at Gettysburg would be a record 85% and the 26th would lose more men than any regiment in either army.
This day however, Gettysburg's fields of fury lay ahead. As the soldiers of Lee's army march through Front Royal, the cheers were spirited, the hopes were high and the South seemed bound for Glory.
Mort Künstler’s Comments:
The inspiration for this painting came from my good friend, Rod Gragg, author of numerous award-winning books on the Civil War. He has written a new book, soon to be released, entitled Covered With Glory, about the famous 26th North Carolina infantry regiment. As Rod talked to me about some of the incidents, I became interested in his description of the regiment when they passed through Front Royal, Virginia, marching north on their way to Gettysburg.
The town's population, mostly women, children and old men (the young men were in the army) treated the 26th as conquering heroes. Waving and tossing flowers, the women cheered and the boys followed the troops down Chester Street, marching alongside them. It had rained the previous night, which accounts for the puddles on the ground and the lack of dust.
On visiting Front Royal, I found a good number of buildings that had survived the Civil War days. The Samuels Apartments on Chester Street was the most interesting. I learned from Suzanne Silck and Sam Riggs, of the Warren Rifles Confederate Memorial Museum in Front Royal, that the building had a balcony during the 1860's. Deciding that it would add interest to the painting, I featured just the building rather than the entire street. The building was restored by Dr. Bernard Samuels in the 1920's and has been known by that name ever since.
The 26th N.C. Regimental Band was one of the most famous military bands of the Civil War. A rare photograph of the band provided me with a lot of information: the appearance of each band member and the type of instrument played. However, without actually seeing the instruments, I could not paint them in their correct positions and I wanted the band to be featured in the painting.
Fortunately, there are both a 26th N.C. Regiment and an 11th N.C. Band in reenactment today. I went to High Point, NC and with the help of Jeff Stepp, Colonel of the regiment, I met members of the regiment and the band., who generously shared their time and expertise. I spent many hours with them, sketching, photographing and learning more about the history of the regiment. Jackson Marshall, a historian with the State Museum of History in Raleigh and a member of the reenactment group, was very helpful in identifying and authenticating artifacts and uniforms in the painting. The spurs, swords, scabbards, and uniforms belonging to Col. Henry K. Burgwyn, Jr. and Lt. Col. John R. Lane (both pictured on horseback) are in the museum's collection. With the help of various members of the museum staff, these were all authenticated. The clothes worn by the civilians were authenticated by Sheila Morris Greene, Curator of Textiles at the Tennessee State Museum.
On June 20, 1863, as the 26th N.C. marched through Front Royal to the cheers of the civilian population, their spirits must have soared. Within two weeks, the tattered remnants of the regiment would be marching south after suffering 85% casualties in those three fateful July days in Gettysburg. The regiment suffered the highest number of casualties of any regiment on either side of the battle. The valor and sacrifice demonstrated by these young Southerners became legendary. At the climax of their courageous charge up McPherson's Ridge on Gettysburg's first day, the regiment was praised by James J. Pettigrew for having "covered itself with glory." That's the title of Rod's book and this painting, which I hope conveys the spirit of confidence and determination that made the 26th North Carolina famous.