Review: “Old Abe, Eagle Hero”

30 08 2010

Old Abe, Eagle Hero: The Civil War’s Most Famous Mascot is a children’s picture book written by Patrick Young and illustrated by Anne Lee.  In terms easy enough for very young readers to understand, the book relates the familiar story of the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry regiment, a North American bald eagle named for POTUS 16.  Since the story is familiar to Civil War buffs, I won’t go into too many details (but you can get some here and here).  In fact, the story is so familiar that this same text was used in this earlier edition, with a different illustrator.  And that different illustrator in this case makes a big difference.  The watercolors in this new edition are striking.

So, this being a kid’s book, I asked a kid – my 12-year-old son – to read it, even though it’s a few years too young for him.  But 12-year-olds being what they are, I couldn’t get him to sit down and type up a review.  The long and the short of it is like me he dug the book.  It took him all of about 5 minutes to read, but he got the gist of Old Abe’s story.  However, he had the same question I had: after a concise account of Old Abe’s life from his birth through the end of the war, his story ends abruptly in 1876, when he travelled to Philadelphia for the centennial exhibition.  What happened to Old Abe? When and how did he die?

A little digging on the web turned up the info, though I’m still not sure if the bird was a he or a she.  In 1881, Old Abe died as a result of a fire near his rooms in the basement of the Wisconsin state Capitol.  After his death he was stuffed and put on display in a glass case in the building, where he stayed until he and the building were destroyed in another fire in 1904.  Below are a few pictures of Old Abe: with his fellow soldiers before reaching maturity, when his head turned white; a couple of publicity photos (he used to “autograph” them by poking a hole with his beak); and what is possibly all that remains of him, a single feather.  All photos from this site.

   





Civil War Art – Howard Pyle

31 01 2009

In my continuing quest to show that Civil War art doesn’t have to suck, I ran acorss these here.  N. C. Wyeth was a pupil of Howard Pyle.  Here are a few of Pyle’s CW illustrations – click on the thumbnails for large images:

I Thought of You When I Was Falling It Was a Comrade From His Own Regiment The Charge The Midnight Court Martial They Talked it Over - With Me On a Horse Generla Lee on His Famous Charger "Traveller" Lincoln's Last Day

Left to right: I Was Thinking of You When I Fell; It Was a Comrade From His Own Regiment; The Charge; The Midnight Court Matial; They Talked it Over – With Me On a Horse; General Lee on His Famous Charger “Traveller”; Lincoln’s Last Day.





Civil War Art – N. C. Wyeth

19 01 2009

As so many folks have stopped by here recently looking for N. C. Wyeth artwork, I thought I’d post this little gallery.  I’ll add to it as I find more.  It’s hard not to wax nostalgic when I see these.  Like many of you, I spent a good deal of time in my youth staring at Wyeth’s illustrations in Treasure Island and Kidnapped!  Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

civil1 civil2 civil3 civil4 civil6





Hittsville Hits Bull Runnings

16 01 2009

I’m getting hits out the wazoo today – this should set a record.  For some reason, lots of folks are looking at my old post ….but I know what I like from 4/24/2007.  Admittedly, this is my all-time most viewed post.  Mostly people view that post as a result of searches for N. C. Wyeth.  The difference today is that there are a whole heck of a lot more of you.  I suppose this is due to reports of the death today of N. C.’s son, artist Andrew Wyeth.  He was 91 years old, and painted (among others) the famous Christina’s World:

christinas-world

I’m not going to kid myself that many of you are here for any reason other than you were looking for info on the recently deceased artist and perhaps his father.  But I welcome you to the site; take a look around while you’re here.  Check the tag Civil War Art for some other posts on that topic.





Decking My Walls

20 09 2008

I’m hoping to get some stuff done this week, as work is very slow right now.  For one, I want to get that last eight foot shelf put up in my office, so I can get around to reorganizing my library.  I also need to make arrangements to frame a recently purchased print.  I may have mentioned this before, but I bought a copy of Don Troiani’s New York’s Bravest, which depicts the 69th New York State Militia and the 11th New York Infantry re-capturing the colors of the former regiment at Bull Run.  I’m not particularly fond of Troiani’s stuff: of the folks working in the ACW art arena these days I only really like Keith Rocco, and overall I find works from the late 19th & early 20th centuries far more appealing.  But the subject matter is what sold me.  Take a look (click on the picture for a larger image):





Inquiring Minds Want to Know…

3 07 2007

 

 mcbragg.jpghhsibley.jpg

…was Confederate general Henry Hopkins Sibley the inspiration for the physical appearance of cartoon legend Commander McBragg?  If the song isn’t running around in your noggin yet, go here and it soon will be.

This post was inspired by the Ayres photo below.  For all you Gilbert & Sullivan fans, he is the very model of a modern major general (though when the war was over he became a lieutenant colonel).  OK, so I’m no lyricist.

ayres3.jpg

 

 





More on Art (As Opposed to Moron Art)

14 06 2007

I’m back from Tennessee (and Mississippi).  There’s nothing like a few days on a battlefield with like-minded fellows to recharge the old batteries.  I’ve compiled a long list of things to write about – including some items carried over from old lists – all the way from more thoughts on books to an article in the new Civil War Times Illustrated to former McNairy County sheriff Buford Pusser. 

Mannie has a new post on Civil War art, taking a close look at a true master, Winslow Homer.  Check it out (proof that great minds really do think alike).  While at the minnatcorinth2.jpgbeautiful Corinth Visitor’s Center (more on that later), I came across a wonderful print of The Fifth Minnesota Regiment at Corinth.  It’s a striking work, oil on canvas painted by Edwin H. Blashfield in 1912, and is one of six paintings of Minnesota regiments in the Governor’s Suite of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul.  For $15 I couldn’t resist, even though I realize it will cost many times that price to have it suitably matted and framed.  You can order it direct from Minnesota Historical Society here.

You may recognize part of the painting from the dust jacket of the recent collection of essays, Struggle for a Vast Future.  The full painting depicts a line of Union soldiers, with color guard and mounted officers, advancing over dead and wounded Confederates toward a lone upright Rebel officer fronting a silent battery.  The officer’s carriage and the look on his face can be described as defiantly resigned.  The guns in question are actually a Union battery, being retaken by the Minnesotans who are led by their Colonel, Lucius Hubbard, the apex of the composition.

This thing is gonna look great on my wall.

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