Artist helping out in his way......
Prints benefit Ellwood
April 2, 2004 1:09 am
By GEORGE WHITEHURST
Civil War artist John Paul Strain is helping preserve the history that inspires him.
The Texas-based craftsman will donate proceeds from the sale of 100 prints of his latest painting toward the restoration of Ellwood, a house used by Union generals in the Battle of the Wilderness.
"Over the years, I've always tried to support battlefield preservation," he said in a telephone interview this week. "As an artist who likes to paint that period in history, it's kind of my job to help keep that alive."
Strain's new painting, "From the Line of Fire," depicts Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet conferring during the height of the Battle of the Wilderness--a bloody fight that engulfed Ellwood plantation on the Orange-Spotsylvania county line.
Strain will highlight the painting during an April 29 show at the Museum of Culpeper History. The show will be one of several events held that weekend to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the battle.
Profits from the 100 prints for sale during the show will help finance the interior restoration of the 18th-century house about 15 miles west of Fredericksburg.
A second show will take place on May 1 at Fredericksburg Historical Prints. A portion of the profits from the framing of Strain prints sold then also will benefit the Ellwood Restoration Project.
Dwight Mottet, president of Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, said the group has raised almost half of the $120,000 needed to return the parlor and main hallway of the two-story house to their Civil War-era appearance.
"After that's done, depending on how much money we receive, we'll continue to restore at least the rest of the first floor," he said.
Carolyn Elstner, chair of the Ellwood Restoration Project, praised Strain's artistic vision and said she is excited that he is helping preserve the "absolute jewel" that sits in the middle of the Wilderness battlefield.
During the Battle of the Wilderness, which raged around Ellwood May 5-7, 1864, about 30,000 men were killed, wounded or went missing in action.
Many of the casualties occurred when the unrelenting gunfire set the area's dense forest and undergrowth ablaze, trapping thousands of soldiers.
Union Gens. Gouverneur K. Morris and Ambrose Burnside used Ellwood as their headquarters during the battle. A year earlier, the cemetery on the farm's grounds had received the amputated arm of Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
Preserving the house and the Wilderness battlefield will allow future generations to walk on "hallowed ground" and consider the sacrifices made in the name of country, Mottet argued.
"I guess preservationists don't want to see our past paved over with asphalt," he said. "If we don't pay attention to history, we're condemned by not knowing history. This gives us some idea of the heroics of soldiers on both sides."
Mike "Dusty" Chapman
Member: CWT, CVBT, NTHP, MOC, KBA, Stonewall Jackson House, Mosby Heritage Foundation
"I would have posted this on the preservation folder, but nobody reads that!" - Christopher Daley
The AC was not started with the beginner in mind. - Jim Kindred