But to the point that these "art critics" are characterizing the Brothers statue (which shows two brothers--one Yankee and one Confederate--embracing after the war), as a "fantasy", I'd like to quote from Daniel N. Rolph's excellent book: My Brother's Keeper - Union and Confederate Soldiers' Acts of Mercy During the Civil War. As several readers have noted in my last post, Casteel's statue also conveys the same theme as Rolph's book.
". . . the many individual 'Good Samaratin' acts of kindness and generosity of common soldiers and citizens toward their enemies are largely unfamiliar to both the scholar and the general public. Both "Rebels" and "Yankess" were by and large raised from the cradle to the grave on the same fundamental values and principles contained within the Judeo-Christian Bible. At a time when honor and chivalry were virtues not only to be idealized but also emulated, it is little wonder that such cases of human charity and compassion did indeed occur."
(Rolph holds a M.A. in history from the University of Kentucky as well as a Ph.D. in folklore/folklife from the University of Pennsylvania, so I would assume he holds some credibility with our snarky academics turned art critics.)
Rolph's book gives detailed accounts of many of these "cases of human charity and compassion", including probably the best known: the Richard Kirkland (Angel of Marye's Heights) story. (The statue which portrays that "fantasy" is featured in the header of the NPS/ Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania website.)
One of my favorite stories that Rolph recounts is something that happened at the 1913 "Gettysburg Reunion" (which is where the iconic photo featured here was taken). This story describes not only one of these acts of charity and compassion, but also contains the theme of reconciliation that was prevalent after the WBTS. Rolph recounts the story like this:
During the famous "Gettysburg Reunion" held in 1913 at the former battlefield, two veterans of that engagement--and former enemies--met one another again, but under much different circumstances. Participating in the famed Pickett's Charge in July 1863, A. C. Smith of the 56th Virginia had actually "just climbed over" the wall "when he was hit" by a Federal bullet. He told friends at the wall in 1913 that after being wounded "a Union soldier gave him some water and took him to the hospital," adding, "He's gone to his reward by this time I reckon."Rolph continues . . .
At that moment, Albert N. Hamilton, a veteran of the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry, arrived at the same wall, and was telling his friends that "it was right here that a Johnny fell into my arms. I lifted him up and gave him a swig of water, and then got him on my shoulders and carried him off, but . . . " At that instance, Smith, who'd been listening, called out to Hamilton and shouted, "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, it's YOU, brother!" Then the two former foes are said to have "fell into each other's arms, embracing.The reconciliation theme of the WBTS is also a major theme at the new Gettysburg Visitors Center and Museum. Frankly, I think the animosity and crititism directed toward Mr. Casteel and his work is motivated by something other than scholarship.