The War for the Union, 1862 – A Bayonet Charge (from "Harper's Weekly," Vol. VII)

After Winslow Homer American
Publisher Harper's Weekly American
Publisher Harper & Brothers American

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.

The War for the Union, 1862 – A Bayonet Charge (from "Harper's Weekly," Vol. VII), After Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine), Wood engraving

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