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

The appointments are part of an ongoing effort to give a greater role to women in the work of the Roman Curia offices, the central administration of the Catholic church.
Gerard O’ConnellApril 21, 2018
Ivette Escobar, a student at Central American University in San Salvador, helps finish a rug in honor of the victims in the 1989 murder of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter on the UCA campus, part of the 25th anniversary commemoration of the Jesuit martyrs in 2014. (CNS photo/Edgardo Ayala) 
A human rights attorney in the United States believes that the upcoming canonization of Blessed Oscar Romero in October has been a factor in a decision to revisit the 1989 Jesuit massacre at the University of Central America.
Kevin ClarkeApril 20, 2018
Journalists photograph the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in California in 2010. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
In California, Catholic opponents of the death penalty are trying to protect the largest population of inmates awaiting execution in the Western Hemisphere.
Jim McDermottApril 20, 2018
Photo: the Hank Center at Loyola University Chicago
Bishop McElroy said that Catholics must embrace “the virtues of solidarity, compassion, integrity, hope and peace-building.”