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Battle for the Shenandoah – limited edition print

In 1864... Union and Confederate armies once again moved through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. This final campaign in the valley required every soldier to attack or defend, as the life of the Confederacy was at stake. In move and countermove, the horsemen were the eyes and ears of the army. More often than not, mounted columns would find each other and the battle would begin over a river ford or road intersection. Cracking pistols and carbines would give way to snorting horses and flashing sabers as officers and men became hopelessly intermingled, each man "facing the maelstrom of steel. No order could be heard or obeyed as it was every man for himself..." As soon as it began, it would end, the participants riding away from the field and leaving only the dead and wounded.

There were countless cavalry skirmishes between the armies, and only the veterans of those clashes would know the violence and horror of those few desperate moments. The campaign in the Shenandoah was filled with such clashes, most on nondescript farms, lanes, and woodlots.

The cavalry embodied the spirit of heroism, and in 1861, hundreds of young men rushed to join the "romantic" branch of the service. Their officers in flashy uniforms would inspire them with bold speeches and incredible horsemanship. And as the mounted troops passed the dusty foot-sore columns of infantry, they would hear the familiar jeer, "Who ever seen a dead cavalryman?" "Not I," "Nor I," the response would echo through the ranks as the troopers rode on. But the romance of the cavalry ended abruptly at places called Brandy Station, Aldie, and Gettysburg.

In the wild excitement of battle, there were no battle lines, only the desperate need to survive and win. Such was the spirit of the cavalry of the armies, north and south, during the American Civil War.

Artist Mort Kunstler has captured those few desperate moments of a clash between horses and men in the Battle for the Shenandoah.

Date Created: 1982

Medium: Oil on canvas

Image Size: 28 1/4

Signature Location: Signed and dated lower right: M Kunstler '82


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.