Victory Rode the Rails


by Mort Kunstler

Overall Print Size: 21" x 34"

Edition Size: 1500

Secondary Market

It was like a grand holiday. Throughout North and South in the summer of 1861, America's young men gleefully pulled on new uniforms, shouldered "rifle-muskets" and cheerfully left for war. They would whip the Rebels in 90 days, boasted Northern recruits. One Southerner could lick ten Yankees, claimed Southern boys. Never again would Americans go to war with such an unrealistic, romantic notion. Some knew better. Brigadier General Thomas J. Jackson, an unremarkable mathematics instructor from the Virginia Military Institute, was a Mexican War veteran, and he tried hard to prepare his troops - Virginia's First Brigade - for the reality of war.

But even Jackson's troops went to war as if heading for a holiday picnic. As they boarded a train at Virginia's Piedmont Station - among the first troops moved to battle by rail - they encountered a boisterous celebration. Flags were flying, troops were waving and young women were passing out treats. A holiday atmosphere masked a grim reality: Many of these youngsters, like their counterparts in the North, would soon be dead or wounded in the war's first major battle at First Manassas. There, too, near the banks of an obscure creek called Bull Run, the unknown VMI officer, Thomas J. Jackson, would rally the shaken Southerners, help turn the day for the Confederacy - and emerge forever famous as General "Stonewall" Jackson.

In "VICTORY RODE THE RAILS" General Jackson sits on Little Sorrel, giving orders to his loyal aide, Lieutenant Colonel "Sandy" Pendleton, who is accompanied by Jackson's chief surgeon, Dr. Hunter McGuire. General Jackson, of course, still wears his blue VMI uniform. The Piedmont sign is clearly visible, and the tender of the locomotive bears the name of the Manassas Gap Railroad on its side. Overcrowding forced a large number of troops to ride atop the train cars next to where the brigade's horses are being loaded. Everything shown in the painting is supported by primary sources - eyewitness accounts, diaries, official records and memoirs. It's quite poignant, when you think about what awaited these young men at First Manassas. Also, here is Jackson - just another officer in a pre-war blue uniform - on the verge of becoming the famous "Stonewall."

Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.