Saturday, September 24, 2005

Historical Landscape & Preservation Artist
Jeff Fioravanti

In July of this year, I posted a blog entry concerning award winning historical landscape and preservation artist Jeff Fioravanti, his work, and his efforts to help preserve historical sites. With equal pleasure, I post below a press release concerning an article about Jeff's work in the November issue of American Artist magazine. This issue will be available very soon so please, pick up a copy and have a look.

If you would like to see the blog entry about Jeff Fioravanti and his work, on the right, you will find a link entitled "Featured Post, Jeff Fioravanti: Painting the Soul of America". I also very much encourage you to visit his web site,, to see for yourself the beautiful works that Jeff has created thus far.

If you will be in the Gettysburg area on October 8, 2005, between 12noon and 4pm, you can enjoy the additional pleasure of meeting Jeff. He will be showing and discussing his work with visitors at the Rupp House at 451 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. You can find more information about the Rupp House by visiting the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg web site.


Press Release:

November issue of American Artist magazine to include feature on historic landscape artist Jeff Fioravanti

New York, New York (September 17, 2005) - "Painting today, to preserve the past, for tomorrow" It is the mission and inspiration that drives artist Jeff Fioravanti to create tangible pieces of art that showcase not just the deep, physical beauty of America, but art that tells the story of our nation, our people, our struggles and our triumphs. A member of several highly respected art associations, Fioravanti's artwork, and dedication toward helping to preserve our storied lands, will soon be featured in an upcoming edition, November 2005, of American Artist magazine.

"From an early age, I was encouraged and supported by my parents and family in my interests and pursuits in art and history," said Fioravanti. "Today, I'm trying to build upon their teachings; to give something back. To use my art and love of American history to connect people to these treasured lands, upon which great sacrifice occurred, to found our nation and keep that nation whole, before they are lost forever," continued the artist.

Despite many challenges, Fioravanti's "giving back" has met with some solid results upon which the artist hopes to continue to build. In the past two plus years, the artist, through a series of programs, initiatives and fundraisers, has helped raise nearly $20,000 for historic preservation, for organizations and museums in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and his home state of Massachusetts.

"These properties are living classrooms," stated Jeff, "precious not just for their historical significance, but also for the plants, and wildlife that can be found there, and for their recreational value too. These are assets that were earned through blood and sweat by our ancestors. They are shared entities that belong to all of us. As such, is it not then the responsibility of each of us to make certain they remain intact, accessible for all, and for future generations to enjoy? I'm just trying to do my part," concluded the artist.

Since 1937, American Artist magazine has been a leading monthly magazine showcasing representational and figurative artists involved in the North American art scene. A subsidiary of VNU publications, the magazine boasts a circulation over 100,000 and has been a resource of inspiration and information for artists, collectors and others interested in the visual arts. It is available at fine art stores, booksellers and newsstands nationwide. For more information about the magazine, please visit, or contact the editorial department at American Artist (646) 654-5506 or via email at

"Painting today, to preserve the past, for tomorrow" is the mission under which the artist's banner flies, and which, through artwork, the artist attempts to attract attention to the plight of the historic lands, properties, and artifacts of America. To learn more about this mission, and artist Jeff Fioravanti, please visit his web site at or contact him at (781) 595-5961.



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All original material Copyright © 2005. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 18, 2005

This Dreadful War

After the Southern victory at Chancellorsville, Confederate General Robert E. Lee decided to again take the war to the north. In June, his columns moved north through the Shenandoah Valley using the ridges to their east, and Major General Stuart's Cavalry, to screen their movements from the pursuing Union Army of the Potomac.

Colonel David Wyatt Aiken commanded the 7th South Carolina of Brigadier General Joseph Kershaw's famous South Carolina Brigade during the movement. As they progressed through the Valley, he took the time to write his wife a letter that briefly encapsulates much of the experience of the civil war soldier while on the move.

"Shenandoah River June 22nd

I wrote to you a few days ago my darling wife from my tent then on the top of a mountain and beyond the river. I told you some little of the beautiful scenery which should have been seen to have been appreciated. That night, there came up a very hard rain and the next morning until noon we were enveloped in the clouds though we heard that the view was clearing in the valley.

The next morning we were proceeding on our march when a courier arrived from the rear saying Stuart's cavalry was heavily pressed by the enemy. We were put under arms and by 3pm ordered hurriedly back across this river, marched 3 miles, drew up in line of battle across the turnpike, each flank reaching upon the mountain. Here we allowed the cavalry to pass to our rear and we waited for the enemy. The fight progressed all day and was very severe. Our men stood there trembling, wet up to their arms and the wind blowing from the mountains as cold as October. Poor fellows. I sympathized with them. After all, we could see the thousands of Yankee campfires in the valley about three miles in our front. We watched them until morning and then advanced upon them when lo they had gone. As soon as they discovered we had infantry, they turned towards Manassas.

It is now after 10pm and we have not yet received any orders about moving tomorrow so I can tell you nothing of our future movements. Where we go, none of us knows, but must certainly meet the foe before many more days and when we do we intend to whup certain regardless of what he intends to do with us. I may be among the number to be sacrificed. God grant I may not be. But if I should I believe I'll die with the full assurance of someday meeting you in heaven. I will have fought too in a noble cause and leave to my beloved wife and dear little children the future consolation that I fell battling for the liberty they may live to enjoy. Kiss our dear little pets for me. Oh for a short sojourn with you and them. But for this dreadful war, how happy would we be.

Colonel David W. Aiken"



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The text above was transcribed from the Time-Life "Voices of the Civil War: Gettysburg" Audio Book. If new to the Civil War, this series serves as an excellent introduction, offering items of interest even to those who consider themselves seasoned enthusiasts. Any errors in the transcription are entirely my own although, after several reviews, I believe this to be accurate. The format is obviously my own.

All original material Copyright © 2005. All Rights Reserved
Text of the letter is copyright TIme Warner Audiobooks © 1997

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Brothers War

While recently enjoying a three-day trip to some of the battlefields in Virginia, I decided to stop by Chatham Manor which overlooks the Rappahannock River and the town of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Part of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Chatham served as headquarters to Major General Edwin Vose "Bull" Sumner, commander of the Army of the Potomac's Right Grand Division, during the battle of First Fredericksburg in December of 1862. Although certainly looking forward to my visit, having walked the grounds there many times previously, I thought not much new would likely present itself.

However, one of the new National Park Service volunteers, stationed at the Manor for just over one month, made my visit much more meaningful than anticipated. Eager to provide a tour of the grounds, she enthusiastically instructed me concerning the history of the property. While enjoying her presentation, I waited somewhat impatiently for her to address the mid-19th century and the era that has become my consuming passion.

Moving throughout the old manor, we made our way to the northern most room. Void of furnishings, the somewhat small room had a solid, dark wood floor, white walls, a painting of George Washington, and a tattered Federal Division flag. As her discussion progressed to the battle's aftermath, she mentioned the building's use as a hospital, somewhat reverently mentioning that the room in which we stood served as the main center for surgery. Now thoroughly riveted to her words, she relayed that Walt Whitman had come to Chatham after learning that his brother, serving with the 51st New York, had been wounded during the fighting. At some point, he sought him here.

What Whitman saw horrified him. From this very room, a steady stream of lifeless severed limbs flew towards the yard from the open westerly-facing window. Fragments of shattered humanity piled under the two still present catalpa trees just outside the room.

Wounded soldiers experienced immense suffering on a sustained and grand scale. Many of those treated on these grounds would be buried here, resting under its sod until re-interred at the National Cemetery on Marye's Heights. Ironically, the ground no Union soldier could take, the ground whose attempts to storm would destroy thousands of lives, now served as the hallowed resting place for over fifteen thousand.

One of the included displays at the manor housed the grim instruments of Civil War medicine that earned the physicians of the time the epithet "Sawbones". Bone saws, scalpels, and needles now harmlessly encased in glass meant pain and misery to the men who obeyed their orders and braved the fields east of the solid Confederate lines. All around lurked reminders of what these men endured, underscoring the degree of valor and bravery each displayed as they, knowing what could be their fate, advanced forward as volunteers for the Union Army.

But this day, one other scene surprisingly lacking in horror would singularly capture the imagination. Also housed safely behind glass sat a sword scabbard with fading, chipped paint, obviously not of the original form. A closer look revealed the word "Fredericksburg" and several scenes painted on its sides. To my astonishment, the display's interpretive note reported that a convalescing soldier painted the vastly incongruous images on this instrument of war. Towards the top of the scabbard, clear for all to see, a Union and Confederate officer shook hands in reconciled friendship. Just beneath it, hands labeled "US" and "CS" embraced with similar sentiments.

This soldier, this man, surrounded by suffering, misery, and death, wounded during one of the Union's most tragic bloodbaths, thought only of rekindled friendship. While his body strove to again become whole, as many of his comrades slept eternally under Virginia's sod, this man dreamed of peace. Never did the label of "The Brothers War" fit so well.



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Also, today especially, please take a moment to remember those who lost their lives and loved ones during the September 11, 2001 attacks. Pray for their families and all who remain to carry on.

All original material Copyright © 2005. All Rights Reserved