Skip to comments.Artist's Civil War interviews reveal nuanced portraits
Posted on 10/23/2005 7:57:44 PM PDT by Crackingham
In the final years of his life, New York artist James Edward Kelly tried to publish his memoirs, a book that would have revolved around his colorful interviews with the many Civil War figures who posed for him. But the Great Depression had set in, and publishers told Kelly that no one was interested in a war long past.
Seven decades after his death, Kelly's dream is being fulfilled. Civil War historian William B. Styple has published a book that chronicles Kelly's life and includes the artist's interviews with key 19th century figures. Styple embarked on the project two years ago after finding a large batch of Kelly's interview notes at the New-York Historical Society. The book, "Generals in Bronze," comes out Nov. 1, and is already generating tremendous buzz in the world of Civil War buffs.
"I was absolutely fascinated by it because it gives such a feeling of intimacy," said Richard Snow, editor of American Heritage magazine. "It may not add anything momentous to the historical record, but it gives you the pleasure of gossip."
"Generals in Bronze" provides valuable insight into the various personalities of the era, thanks in large part to Kelly's meticulous notes.
The interviews cover a range of subjects, from Gen. George A. Custer's "boyish chuckle" and his canteen of iced tea to whether Gen. George G. Meade wished to retreat from the Battle of Gettysburg (apparently so). One general recounted to Kelly a tale of how Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's drinking had led him to resign as a captain in 1854. The account claims that Grant remarked, "I'll make my mark yet. I don't propose to remain in the gutter."
"These are things they wouldn't write in their memoirs," Styple, 45, said of the people interviewed. "In those days, they didn't write tell-all books."
Kelly strived for accuracy and detail during his interviews, often because he was trying to sketch battle scenes from the memories of aging men. One reason Styple wanted to learn about Kelly was that he saw one of his drawings and thought it had to be the work of an eyewitness.
I know you are a civil war history buff---ping!
Now that your all here, can anyone suggest a book that details the post civil war 'destruction' of the South?
In doing research on the mining camps of the Cal - Arizona and Nevada deserts, I found most the workers were southerners. Thanks in advance.
Black Reconstruction in America: 1860-1880, by W.E.B. DuBois.
Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863- 1877, by Eric Foner.
A Short History of Reconstruction, by Eric Foner.
The Era of Reconstruction, 1865-1877, by Kenneth M. Stampp.
Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery, by Leon F. Litwack.
mostly a self-ping.
Very Interesting Observation!
Two other good books, one of which Kelly was involved in were:
Eye Of The Storm by Private Robert Knox Sneden, edited by Charles F Bryan, Jr and Nelson D Lankford
Images from the Storm by Private Robert K Sneden, edited by Charles F Bryan, Jr, James C Kelly and Nelson D Lankford.
Sorry, wrong Kelly but still two good books.