Charleston Autumn - 1861 (SOLD OUT)


by Mort Kunstler

Overall Print Size: 23¾" x 31"

Edition Size: 2500 

For Southerners, the fall of 1861 was a season of great expectations. Eleven Southern states had formed a new nation -- the Confederate States of America -- and the fledgling country had successfully defended itself in the field. The large-scale battles that would produce America's bloodiest war had yet to occur. Southerners were still rushing to arms, fielding new troops, parading through city streets and drilling on courthouse squares.

Nowhere did the flame of Southern patriotism burn brighter than in Charleston, South Carolina. Like most Americans on both sides, Charlestonians believed the War Between the States would be brief and bloodless. The Federal naval blockade had not yet applied its deadly squeeze. Federal artillery had yet to bombard the handsome city structures into battered buildings. The pain and suffering of war had not yet reached most Southern homes.

Instead, an atmosphere of hope and celebration still affected the South -- and Charleston. Companies like the Jackson Guards -- named for Southern martyr James T. Jackson -- paraded through Charleston's streets before admiring onlookers. Southern women made uniforms and raised funds for the boys in the field. Southern dignitaries were honored with receptions and balls.

In mid-November of 1861, General Robert E. Lee was welcomed to Charleston by the port city's leading citizens. As special military advisor to President Jefferson Davis, Lee had come to Charleston to oversee development of South Carolina's coastal defenses. He was a guest at the Mills House, Charleston's most prestigious hotel, and was treated as an honored visitor. Rank and position -- not fame -- afforded him Charleston's genteel courtesies. He was not yet the South's most beloved figure; that glory awaited him on countless bloody fields of the future. Such acclaim -- and the wartime horrors to come -- could hardly be imagined amid sea breezes on a warm autumn night in Charleston.

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