Short Takes

by Fred Ray on May 20, 2010 · 0 comments

Civil War soldiers turn up all over the place, even in sunny California. When Gordon Bricken saw a Confederate flag at an Orange County cemetery he began looking.

Bricken found 348 Union and Confederate veterans buried at Santa Ana Cemetery, then tried nearby Fairhaven and found 278 more. He kept going, walking alone through the graveyards, marking down names on his list: two more at Old Mission San Juan Capistrano, 59 in Anaheim, one at Holy Cross.

He joined forces with a small group of like-minded Civil War headstone-hunters; they called themselves the Orange County Blue and Gray Project. In all, they found 803 Civil War veterans buried in a dozen Orange County cemeteries.

As mentioned in the article Bricken has written a book with everything he could find about these soldiers (and some civilians like a female spy as well). The site also has some other specialized books on the Civil War.

One of Stonewall Jackson’s West Point textbooks, D. H. Mahan’s Treatise on Field Fortifications, is up for auction, but you’d better have some spare cash if you’d like to have it.

This textbook contains pencil markings throughout, presumably made by Cadet Jackson. The twelve pull-out plates are intact and in fine condition. Foxing with professional restoration to rebuild the spine and corners, presenting a tight binding.

Jackson’s textbook is accompanied by an undated letter of provenance written and signed by the granddaughter of General Jackson, Julia Jackson Christian, to General Charles P. Summerall. “I want you to have this book which was used by my Grandfather General Jackson while he was at West Point. Your visit gave us all great pleasure. If you have an opportunity I would love to have you come in and look over the books at your leisure. . . . I feel that it was a great privilege to have had you in my home.” General Summerall, an 1888 West Point graduate, served in the Spanish-American War and World War I.

Bidding starts at five grand.

UPDATE: Artist Mort Künstler is best known now for his Civil War paintings, which are historically accurate and command high prices. But he didn’t start that way—Künstler cut his artistic teeth illustrating for pulp men’s magazines in the 50s and 60s (as a genre they pretty much faded away by the 70s). All these mags featured hairy-chested real men accompanied by scantily-clad babes, menaced by Nazis, Commies, savage beasts (reptiles and monkeys were favorites) and equally savage tribes. Künstler was one of the best—”the King of Men’s Adventure.”

The magazines were a training ground for a lot of famous artists and writers. I could not do today what I do without that background. We told stories directly and immediately. You learned composition and color. You had to be creative and you had to meet deadlines.

I’ve linked to three of his covers from this period, all of which are okay, but be warned that if you go to the main site some of the covers are not safe for work, politically incorrect, or both.

Some of Kunstler’s “hard boiled” art went up for auction recently, no doubt for many times what he was paid to paint it.

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