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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.

Ghost Column, The - limited edition print SOLD OUT
Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest, Fort Donelson, Tennessee, February 16, 1862

This limited edition print is SOLD OUT

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: 17" x 23" • Overall Size: 23" x 28"
Signed & Numbered • Edition Size: 1000
Signed Artist's Proofs • Edition Size: 50

Mort Künstler's Comments

In my search for a snow scene that I like to do each year, I found it while reading First With the Most by Robert S. Henry.

Late one evening of February 16, 1862, in a council of War at Fort Donelson, the Confederate High Command decided that it would be fruitless to continue their resistance against the superior forces of Union General U.S. Grant. The then unknown Lt. Col. of cavalry, Nathan Bedford Forrest, spoke up. "I did not come here for the purpose of surrendering my command, and I will not do it if they follow me out".

Leaving in the middle of the night, with about 500 men of different commands, they rode out, under the foulest of weather conditions, through snow, ice and freezing cold. Forrest made it all the way to Nashville without encountering any Union troops.

Thus a legend was born.

In a night scene with snow, and low visibility, one of the main problems I faced was for the viewer to immediately identify the troops as Confederate. This was accomplished by placing the flag bearer in a prominent position near Forrest. The flags of the Tennessee regiments surrendered at Fort Donelson were almost all variants of the first National pattern or the "Stars and Bars". The 7th Tennessee Cavalry flag has not survived, but it is safe to assume that it it probably was a "Stars and Bars" pattern with thirteen stars.

Tennessee issued a similar flag to all its units in 1861, whether they were infantry, cavalry, or artillery. Many of the early flags had the fringe.

I deliberately brought Forrest close up into the foreground so that we could see his face. At night it would have been difficult to recognize faces any further back. I also purposely put the other men in positions so that no other faces could be seen, thus focusing full attention on the center of interest and hero of the piece, the soon-to-be Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.


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 © 2001-2022. 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.