With a Rebel Yell – Poster
With a Rebel Yell – Poster
Second Manassas, August 29, 1862
This is the Commemorative Poster from the Gods and Generals one-man exhibition of paintings at the National Civil War Museum in 2002 and Hammer Galleries in 2003. The exhibits celebrated the release of Kunstler’s book Gods and Generals – The Paintings of Mort Künstler.
Those who heard it never forgot it. Such was the power of the legendary Rebel Yell. It was an odd mixture – part hunting shout, part hog-call, part excitement, part fear, and part bravado. Recalled a Civil War veteran who heard it in combat: “Then arose that do-or-die expression – that penetrating, rasping, shrieking, blood-curdling noise that could be heard for miles on earth.” Those who emitted it said it could never be duplicated outside of battle.
Among the numerous battlefields over which it arose was Second Manassas, where Confederate troops found themselves sorely pressed on the first day of fighting. After driving the mighty Army of the Potomac away from Richmond in the Seven Days Campaign, General Robert E. Lee and his newly organized Army of Northern Virginia moved boldly to strike another Federal force. The target was General John Pope’s 75,000-man Army of Virginia, which was poised to move against the Confederate capital from Northern Virginia. In a daring military gamble, Lee left the Richmond defenses and engineered a brilliant tactical maneuver against Pope’s army near Manassas, Virginia.
For two days, the armies launched a series of bloody assaults against each other. At one point, the Confederate left flank was struck a fierce blow by courageous Federal troops from New York and Pennsylvania. The men in blue hammered at two brigades of Carolina troops under Generals Maxcy Gregg and Lawrence O’Bryan Branch. Exhausted, low on ammunition and depleted by heavy casualties, the valiant Carolinians braced for another attack. Just when the Southern line seemed on the verge of breaking, fresh Virginia troops under General Jubal A. Early joined the battered Confederate defenders and struck the advancing Federals head-on in an open meadow.
The Southerners charged into combat, a veteran of the battle would recall, “with a wild Confederate yell.” The two forces collided in a hand-to-hand and face-to-face struggle, and then the Northern line broke and fell back in retreat. The next day on the field of battle, the Southern success would be repeated and Second Manassas would become one of Robert E. Lee’s greatest victories. It would also remain a reminder of that uniquely Southern phenomenon, the Rebel Yell, an audible and ecstatic expression of the decidedly Southern, almost joyful, all-or-nothing attitude that carried the Southern Cross above countless fields of fire. At Second Manassas and elsewhere, it was the battle cry of brave men who knew they faced men of equal courage...Americans all.
Mort Künstler’s Comments
As official artist for the Ron Maxwell motion picture Gods and Generals, I faced an enormous task: Trying to capture the drama and desperation of the Civil War and the power of the best-selling novel by Jeff Shaara. My friend Ron Maxwell was not only director and screen-writer for Gods and Generals, as he was for the motion picture Gettysburg, but he was also producer. He invited me to visit the set while the film was in production in Maryland. There, not only was I impressed with the film spectacle Ron was producing, but in watching the re-enactors I was reminded all over again of the measure of American duty and determination that was displayed in the War Between the States.
As the first of four limited edition prints in the Gods and Generals Collection, I chose to focus on the legendary Rebel Yell. Nothing on the Southern side of the Civil War experience personifies for me the courage and commitment to duty displayed by Southerners more than the Rebel Yell. It was a unique Southern phenomenon that is very difficult to capture in any form. I chose to focus on a desperate moment of fighting at Second Manassas that represents to me the courage and convictions of soldiers from both sides. It also was a moment of combat in which the Rebel Yell played a prominent role. It is a fitting scene to begin the four-picture series.
Since Gods and Generals was written and produced as a prequel to Gettysburg, I decided to follow the sequence of that enormously successful print series and book. I hope With a Rebel Yell shows the drama, excitement and courage so common in that purely American war as well as did my paintings Keep to Your Sabers and The High Tide. I was also extremely pleased that the publisher of the book has selected With a Rebel Yell for the jacket cover of the companion book to Gods and Generals.
Note: This poster is unsigned.