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

Supporters of opposition presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla clash with military police in the Policarpo Paz Garcia neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Jan. 20, 2018. Following a disputed election marred by irregularities, incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez was declared the victor and will be inaugurated on Jan. 27. The opposition does not recognize Hernandez's victory and are protesting against the result. (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio)
“You will see many protests during his mandate...because Honduras hasn’t fixed its age-old problems of inequality, exclusion, poor educational and health system, corruption and impunity.”
Melissa VidaJanuary 23, 2018
I want to be able to serve the state better. I want to be able to serve more of the state.
Nathan SchneiderJanuary 23, 2018
Formed in 2011, The Oh Hellos' Christianity is one of their foundational inspirations, evident in lines like "the only God I should have loved."
Colleen DulleJanuary 23, 2018
People gather at a June 14 candlelight vigil in Manila, Philippines, in memory of the victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Philippine Catholic bishops called for vigilance against bullying, ostracism and harassment of gay people in the wake of the incident in which police said a lone gunman killed 49 people early June 12 at the club. (CNS photo/Mark R. Cristino, EPA)
“We are losing three generations of people, and we need to hear why,” said Bishop Mark O’Connell.
Michael J. O’LoughlinJanuary 23, 2018