"Raise The Colors And Follow Me" by Mort Kunstler

Signed & Numbered Limited Edition Print

The Irish Brigade at the Battle of Antietam. Official print of the class of 1991 of the U.S Army War College, Carlisle, PA

"Raise the Colors and Follow Me"

Image size: 16 1/2" x 24 3/4"

Edition size: 1000 S/N

Class edition size: 700 S/N

Issue price: SOLD OUT (only available on our secondary market -- call for current price and availability -- 800-237-6077)

Official Print for the 1991 Class of the U.S. Army War College

I was delighted when the U.S. Army War College Corresponding Studies Class of 1991 asked me to do the "Irish Brigade" at Antietam. I had known that it had never been painted before and had been wanting to do it for some time.

After reading as much as I could on the subject, I went to the Antietam Battlefield again and found it just as exciting as the first visit. I timed it for September and was sure to be there early in the morning to be able to see the lighting effects of the time of day I wanted to paint between 10 a.m. and noon. After walking the entire battleline of the Sunken-Road and walking through the fields that the Union troops came across, I found the best view would be from the extreme right of the Union line. There is a slope downward to a farm lane toward the northeast and I immediately took this as my viewpoint so that I could look toward the morning light coming out of the east. This would enable me to silhouette the flags and General Meagher dramatically and also show the Confederate line to the south entrenched in the Sunken Road. The pleasant surprise for me was that the NYSV 69th Regiment, the first regiment to be raised by Meagher and the Irish Brigade, was positioned at this spot . I had always loved the movie, The Fighting Sixty-Ninth that starred James Cagney and Pat O'Brien. It had immortalized the 69th for their World War I exploits. Here was a chance for me, as a New Yorker, to pay tribute in my way to this famous fighting unit.

The troops were equipped with the Model 1842 Musket and wore only their belt sets and canteens, having left behind their haversacks, knapsacks, blankets, etc.

General Meagher's uniform and likeness are based on accounts and photos that exist. The sword is one of at least four that he owned, a Model 1850 staff & field, and is now in the collection of Notre Dame University.

I was fortunate enough in my research to meet Ken Powers, Historian of the 69th, and Barney Kelley, commander of the Veterans Corps of the 69th Regiment. Through their efforts, I was able to find out that the actual flag used at Antietam still existed, preserved at the Armory in New York City! We found that contrary to previously published material on the regimental flag that had all shown "69th Regiment Irish Brigade", the actual flag says "1st Regt. Irish Brigade"!

We also found that the flag was embroidered and not painted, as was the usual way of flag making at that time. Because we are looking at the reverse side, it presented me with the problem of making a conscious decision of showing the lettering in reverse or taking the liberty of showing it in an easily readable form, as if it had been a painted flag. In consultation with the historians and LTC Tom Dombroski, Rep. of the U.S. Army War College, Corresponding Studies Class of 1991, we decided it would be better to show it the more readable way.

The bullet holes in the flag are actually placed where there is battle damage on the original. I was also able to learn the exact lettering style and design, where as previously this had been based on old photos and conjecture. The streamers also exist, so I was able to paint them exactly as they were.

When Ken Powers and Barney Kelly came to my studio to see the painting almost finished, imagine my surprise when they brought with them the actual finial at the top of the regimental flag pole that was used at the battle. I can't describe the thrill to hold it in my hands. I, of course, painted the finial to match the one I was holding. It is solid brass, with one of the small arms broken off. It had originally been silver plated. It was easily the most pleasant change on a painting that was all pleasure from the start.



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