Monday, April 11, 2011

150th Anniversary of the Confederate Attack on Fort Sumter

Today -- or tonight, really -- marks the anniversary of the fateful day when Major Robert Anderson decided against evacuating from Fort Sumter, off the coast of Charleston, SC, as demanded by the newly-formed Confederate government, and the Confederates retaliated by shelling the fort at around 4:30 am on April 12, 1861. 

Mary Chesnut, seen in my painting above entitled Mary Chesnut: Witness to War, was the wife of former senator James Chesnut, who had recently resigned from his position as U.S. senator to join the Confederacy. Her husband was one of the men who had taken a rowboat out to the doomed fort in hopes of negotiating a settlement with Major Anderson. She realized that the nation was embarking on an odyssey that would figure significantly in history, and determined to keep a diary of events as they transpired throughout the war. Though thoroughly Southern, Mrs. Chesnut is often characterized as having managed to keep a relatively unbiased accounting of all that occurred during that war. The quote seen below her image, "Woe to those who began this war, if they were not in bitter earnest," comes from a diary post much later in the war when the civilian population had grown disillusioned and weary of the conflict.

To  read more about this particular painting, or to see more of the works I have produced for my personal Civil War 150 project, and the Women of Distinction series, please visit my website at

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

John Brown, Abolitionist: "The Prophet"

Another key player in the events that eventually led to the beginning of the Civil War was the abolitionist, John Brown. I created this image in 2009 after researching his life, and several of my sources contained photographs of him from various eras. I was immediately struck by the short period of time that separated the two images I eventually selected to create this painting: the first was taken in 1847, the second only TWELVE YEARS late, in 1859! To be fair, in the second photo, he had grown the long, flowing beard in hopes that it might help disguise his appearance. Still, that's a pretty dramatic change to have occur in one's appearance, in only twelve years; most likely indicative of the tremendous stress his life and abolitionist activities created for him.

I'm honored to report that in October of 2009, the U.S. Marine Corps selected this image for the cover of their history magazine, Fortitudine,  to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Brown's raid on the arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). To see this and more pieces of art in my Civil War 150 Project, please visit my website, .