The War for the Union, 1862 – A Bayonet Charge (Harper's Weekly, Vol. VII)
Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine)
Harper's Weekly (American, 1857–1916)
July 12, 1862
image: 13 5/8 x 20 5/8 in. (34.6 x 52.4 cm)
sheet: 16 1/16 x 22 5/8 in. (40.8 x 57.5 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1928
Not on view
In the summer of 1862 the Army of the Potomac mounted an assault on Richmond, Virginia, but was repulsed. This dramatic composition, designed by Homer, an artist-correspondent for Harper’s Weekly, describes fighting at Fair Oaks—or Seven Pines—on May 31, when Union forces were saved by last-minute reinforcements. One of Homer’s most ambitious war subjects, the dramatic composition represents soldiers in close combat roused to a fever pitch. The accompanying text stressed: Soldiers seldom actually cross bayonets with each other in battle. Before the regiment which is charging reaches its antagonist, the latter usually seeks safety in flight. All the strength and all the bravery in the world will not protect a man from being run through the body by a bayonet if he stands still while it approaches him. . . . At Fairoaks the rebels almost invariably broke and fled before our bayonets reached them. In one or two instances, however, there were hand-to-hand tussles. . . . One of them is realized in our picture.
Signature: in block: "Homer"
Vendor: F. W. Faxon Co.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," May 20, 2013–August 26, 2013.
Beam 97; Goodrich 41; Gelman 133
Lloyd Goodrich, Donald H. Karshan The Graphic Art of Winslow Homer Ex. cat., Museum of Graphic Art, New York; Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, San Francisco
. 1968, cat. no. 41, p. 29.
Barbara Gelman The Wood Engravings of Winslow Homer. New York, 1969, cat. no. 133, pp. 76, 201, ill.
Philip C. Beam Winslow Homer's Magazine Engravings. New York, 1979, cat. no. 97, pp. 115, 255, ill.