Art Auction for Charity at a Civil War Re-enactment

An important distinction is being deliberately blurred
between original and print, gallantry and grasping,
our attention called instead to the quality of the frame,

Advertisement

the careful double matting, and when the auctioneer is
reminded that the first portrait is of Grant, he puts it aside,
says, “we’ll save that for later” and gets a laugh,

for this is still, after all, the South, where later
or sooner, everything comes back to loss. Even the far
pasture, where re-enactors have parked campers and pickups,

was once fertilized with blood and shards of bone,
and on bottomland along the creek, where they’ve pitched
white canvas for a hospital tent, the sodden earth’s

been crossed and re-crossed by Confederate horsemen
and by amateur historians with metal detectors, who keep
hoping to locate something buried and unnamed

but settle instead for uniform buttons and tarnished
silver coins. At the edge of a field by the port-a-johns
and kudzu, there’s a table with cotton T-shirts,

replica swords and plastic pistols, but also a few genuine
unearthings—an early version of a Gatling gun with a barrel
that overheated, and a small cannon that once fired

canisters of grapeshot or else iron rough cylinders connected
by short lengths of chain such as unruly slaves might wear.
General Nathan Bedford Forrest is on the block now.

He’s sitting astride an enormous gray gelding on a hill
above the rising smoke and carnage. Again and again,
the gavel falls like a judgment—although, as reproductions go,

it’s really not that bad. One can almost hear groans
from his shrapnel-ravaged company, and most bidders
aren’t yet certain what kind of goods they’re being sold.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Pro-life advocates participate in the annual March for Life in Washington January 2017. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
Describing abortion as a “key social evil” in the United States, the Jesuits say: “The most fundamental building block of a just social order is respect for human life.”
America StaffJanuary 19, 2018
Men carry a replica of Peru's most revered religious icon, the "Lord of Miracles," during an Oct. 18, 2017 procession in Lima. Each year thousands of Catholics gather to commemorate the image's survival in a 17th-century earthquake that destroyed Lima. (CNS photo/Mariana Bazo, Reuters)
Father Ernesto Cavassa was provincial of the Jesuits in Peru from 1998 to 2004, and president of the Conference of Latin American Jesuit Provincials from 2005 to 2012.
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 18, 2018
For over 45 years, Feminists for Life has been committed to ending the practice and legality of abortion and promoting the feminism of Susan B. Anthony.
Serrin M. FosterJanuary 18, 2018
A President Donald Trump supporter is see seen at the annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 27. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
During their tenure in office, President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush all addressed the march via telephone or a radio hookup from the Oval Office.
Catholic News ServiceJanuary 18, 2018