July 1, 1863 - History & Heros

It's around this time of year (actually started last week or so) that I start getting in the mood to read about the civil war. Mainly because today is the anniversary of day one of the battle of Gettysburg. The 147th anniversary to be exact. I've been to Gettysburg several times and each time it was in summer. Seeing the battlefield in person this time of year can only start to give you an appreciation for what all those boys went through. I can only imagine how tough it must have been on both sides.

Sometimes my interest in the war will lead me to read a book or two about it before going back into art and art history full time. Last year I read a biography of Lincoln. This year, one of the things I'm reading (re-reading actually) is the booklet shown here. I picked this up, along with a lot of other things, on one of my visits to Gettysburg. It's basically a long essay detailing how screwed up the Northern generals were in the first three years of the war, but also shines a none to flattering light on Lincoln and Halleck's efforts to control the field movements, general inner workings of the army of the Potomac, and the war itself. It ends by making the point, (and I think it's a good one) that the Battle itself, while being very important did not, "turn the tide" and  win the war.

As Americans, we always like to have our heros and events nice and clear cut don't we? The fact is, that it wasn’t one heroic march and countermarch that won the war, but the dogged determination of Grant’s campaign all during 1864 that really won it. The unglamourous but effective "long hard slog" is something that is hard to polish up for the sake of history, which is why it may not be as popular for  us to remember.

In any case I must come up with an idea for a civil war-themed still life to paint...