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One of the most famous legends of the American frontier was James Butler Hickok, also known “Wild Bill”. Through his many exploits, Hickok became known as the premier gunfighter of the American West. Lawman Wyatt Earp once said, “Bill Hickok is regarded as the deadliest pistol shot alive, as well as being a man of great courage”.
James Hickok was born into a large family on May 27, 1837 in Troy Grove, Illinois. After his father died, 18 year old James headed west into Kansas Territory to begin his life as a frontiersman. From an early age James had an unusual ability as a pistol marksman.
After arriving in Kansas Territory he joined a Jayhawker militia, and rode against pro-slavery Missourians in the area, honing his skills with a pistol on horseback. For work he became a teamster and It was during this time that he would meet “Buffalo Bill” Cody, who would become a life long friend.
With his imposing frame of 6’3”, cool demeanor, and a reputation as a marksman, Hickok was soon asked to serve as a bodyguard for Union General James Henry Lane in Leavenworth, Kansas. When the Civil War broke out, he served as a spy and scout for Major General Samuel R. Curtis. “Wild Bill,” as he had come to be known, disguised himself as a Confederate soldier and gathered information about enemy troop movements for the general. He also scouted for Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer. In Custer’s book, My Life on the Plains, he wrote about Hickok, “Of his courage there could be no question. His skill in use of the rifle and pistol was unerring. His deportment was entirely free of bravado… His influence among frontiersmen was unbounded, his word was law, and many are the personal quarrels and disturbances which he had checked among his comrades… I have a personal knowledge of at least half a dozen men who he has at various times killed, others have been seriously wounded—yet he always escaped unhurt in every encounter.”
After the war, Wild Bill Hickok moved to Hays City, Kansas where he was appointed sheriff, and later as marshal of Abilene. Both towns had become outposts for lawless men before Hickok arrived and turned things around.
Hickok met Martha Jane Canary, also known as “Calamity Jane” on a wagon train headed north from Fort Laramie, Wyoming. The two became friends as Calamity was infatuated with the now famous lawman, gun fighter and celebrity of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.
In 1876, Calamity Jane settled in the area of Deadwood, South Dakota in the Black Hills. She became friends with Dora DuFran who was the leading madam of the area and worked for Dora on occasion. She continued her friendship with Hickok when he moved to Deadwood in July 1876 to prospect for gold and gamble in the evenings at the local saloons. But his few weeks in Deadwood would end tragically in Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon (sometimes referred to as the “Saloon No. 10”) when he would draw what would become known as the deadman’s hand of “Aces and Eights”.
Rev. William Corby, Col. Patrick Kelly, Captain Denis F. Burke - 88th New York Regiment
Weikert Farm - Gettysburg, PA - July 2, 1863
In late June of 1863 a Washington newspaper headline blared out, “Invasion! Rebel Forces in Maryland and Pennsylvania”. President Abraham Lincoln was more than concerned. General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia with 65,000 soldiers had crossed the Potomac with the intent to destroy the Federal army and march on to Washington. In public President Lincoln had full confidence that his Army of the Potomac would be able to stop Lee’s invasion. However Lincoln had his doubts about the army’s commander, General Hooker. The president needed a leader who had the fortitude and strength of character to lead his army in a desperate fight which could change the course of the war. He had the brave men who would give their all in battle, but he needed a leader who Lincoln said, would not be “outgeneraled” by Lee. Three days before the battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln announced to his war cabinet that he had replaced General Hooker with General George Meade who’s nickname was the “Old Snapping Turtle”.
The two great armies met at the sleepy little crossroads town of Gettysburg on July 1st. Lead elements of the armies engaged around the town, while the main body of the armies converged into place. President Lincoln was a constant fixture at the telegraph office, receiving dispatches, and updates, as he was poring over a map hung on the wall. For the next couple of days, the fate of the nation seemed to be hanging in the balance as Lincoln paced back and forth across the room, only to rest occasionally on a small couch.
The second day of the battle General Lee attacked with the full force of his army on both flanks of the Federal lines. General Meade’s 2nd Corps, which included the Irish Brigade was placed on the left center of the Union lines on Cemetery Ridge. The Irish Brigade had the reputation as one of the best fighting brigades of the army and were led by Col. Patrick Kelly. As the thunder of the fighting grew, and shells burst along Cemetery Ridge, the Irish Brigade was told to prepare themselves for battle. Father Corby, the spiritual leader and Chaplin of the 88th infantry, had not been able to hold religious services for weeks because of the heavy marching. The reverend asked Col. Kelly if he could address the men. In one of the poignant moments of the day Father Corby gave absolution to the men of the Irish Brigade as they knelt, bowed in prayer. Soon afterward at about 3:00 P.M. the order came, “Move by the left flank.” Caldwell’s Division, including the Irish Brigade marched past George Weikert’s one story farm house and on into the Wheatfield, and surrounding area where some of the most heavy fighting of the day then took place. During the whirlwind of battle, the 530 men of the Irish Brigade sustained over 200 casualties at the Wheatfield and Stony Hill. Colonel Kelly was the only brigade commander of Caldwell’s division not killed or wounded. Father Corby would spend hours giving the fallen last rights and helping the wounded. President Lincoln would say about his soldiers in the Gettysburg address...”that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion...”.
Battle of Centralia, Missouri - September 27, 1864
The Civil War was fought differently in Kansas and Missouri than the rest of the country. In Virginia, Maryland, and Tennessee, armies of thousands would face each other in great lines of battle. In the West, battles were more often skirmishes of less than a couple of hundred men. Guerrilla tactics, surprise attacks, and ambush were the tools of the day and southerners fought by the code of the feud. The population had mixed loyalties between North or South, which caused suspicion as to who was friend or foe. Adding to the confusion southern combatants often did not wear uniforms and sometimes dressed in federal jackets. It was in the early summer of 1864 that a young 16 year old Jesse James joined Bloody Bill Anderson’s Raiders under the command of William Quantrill to ride with his older brother Frank.
On the afternoon of September 27th Anderson and about 80 of his men rode out of the federal town of Centralia, leaving behind death and destruction. Much of the town was on fire and 22 non-combatant federal soldiers had been killed.
When Anderson and his men rejoined Captain George Todd’s cavalry unit back at camp, word spread of what had happened. Captain Todd chastised Anderson for what had been done. What they didn’t know was that the federals were already in pursuit. Federal Major AVE Johnston commander of the 39th infantry were mounted and on the trail with about 155 troops. After viewing the destruction and death in Centralia the federal commander vowed revenge, and a black flag was carried by his column indicating no quarter was to be given by his men for any wounded or captured prisoners.
Major Johnston’s column was soon discovered by Anderson’s rear guard scouts led by Dave Pool who galloped back to camp warning their brethren. Instantly the camp jumped into action as Anderson’s and Todd’s raiders readied for battle. As the rebels mounted their horses they formed into squads of ten to twenty men. Two miles from Centralia at the rise of a golden yellow hayfield the federals formed a line of battle on foot. Johnston’s men were infantry soldiers carrying long-barreled, muzzle loading Enfield rifles. Johnston ordered his men to fix bayonets.
Frank James would later recount, “John Koger, a funny fellow in our ranks, watched the Yankees get down from their horses, and said: ‘Why, the fools are going to fight on foot! God help em.” Anderson riding his new mount, smiled and leaned over to Archie Clement and said, “Not a damned revolver in the crowd!” But actually commander Johnston stood next to his horse with a six shooter in his hand.
The troopers dismounted their horses, checked their equipment, tighten their horse’s girths, and remounted pulling their pistols. At the command they moved forward in line, slowly at first. The line move toward the enemy at a walk, then to a trot up the hill. They heard the federal commander scream “ready aim fire!” Frank James said when they heard the enemy officer’s command, “We were lying behind our horses (necks), a trick that Comanche Indians practiced.” When the federals fired their rifles nearly all the shots went over their heads. But three raiders were hit. Two of them, Richard Kinney and Frank Shepherd were Frank’s best friends riding on either side of him. Shepherd was killed out right and fell from his horse. Kinney was shot and pulled back, although he was able to cling to his horse. He would die soon afterward. Several horses went down as well. The federal line only got off only one shot. At 200 yards Anderson shouted “Charge” and with a bloodcurdling rebel yell the line leaped into a thundering gallop. Frank continued, “On up the hill, almost in the twinkling of an eye we were on the Yankee line.” The federal line quickly broke and a wild panic of fighting and fleeing took place. During the fight Jesse engaged and killed Major Johnston the union commander. All the federals who stood their ground and fought were killed, including a number who ran away. Ten of the raiders were wounded, a number had been bayoneted, and three were killed. Describing the battle Frank James said, “We never met many Federal soldiers that would fight us on equal terms. They would either outnumber us or would run away.” The battle was Jesse’s first big victory.
After the war, Jesse James and his brother Frank would become some of the most notorious and famous outlaws of the West.
Stonewall Jackson, Anna Jackson & Anne Graham
Braddock Street - Winchester, VA - January 1862
General Stonewall Jackson was in high spirits during the snowy days of January 1862. He and his army had returned from successful expeditions to Bath and Romney. He learned that his men were strong and faithful through difficult and challenging days. The Federals in Northern Virginia had been shown that his army was not to be taken lightly.
Also to Stonewall’s delight, his wife Anna was in Winchester staying at the home of Reverend James R. Graham located on Braddock Street. For the first time General Jackson and Anna could be together for an extended period of time. The General’s headquarters and office were just up the street at the home of Lieutenant Colonel Lewis T. Moore, commander of the 31st Virginia Militia.
The Graham family home was the perfect place for the Jacksons to stay in Winchester. Fanny and James Graham were wonderful hosts and the General loved their three children, Anne, Alfred and William. The Jacksons were given the upstairs northeast corner of the house for their privacy. The family atmosphere at the Graham home was just the respite that the General needed from the stress and responsibilities of the military. The General would never conduct or discuss any military matters or business at the Graham home. If a courier or dispatch arrived, Jackson would direct the man to his office up the street.
General Jackson was a man of meticulous habits. He would arise at the same early hour every day and immediately go to his headquarters to attend to the mail and issue orders for the day. A few minutes before 8:00am he would return to the Graham’s home and escort his wife downstairs to breakfast.
Speaking of General Jackson, Reverend Graham would tell his parishioners that “he is really a member of my family. He ate every day at my table, slept every night under my roof and bowed with us morning and evening at our family alter. He called my house his home.”
General R. E. Lee with the Buck Family Bel Air House
Front Royal, VA - July 22, 1863
It had been an arduous march south from the bloody fields of Gettysburg for the Army of Northern Virginia. Torrential rains had flooded the Potomac River delaying the southern army’s retreat to the relative safety of Virginia. With US General George Meade’s Federal forces closing in, Lee’s army was finally able to cross the Potomac on July 13th. Still in pursuit, General Meade’s cavalry crossed the Potomac farther down river, East of the Blue Ridge Mountains and began to occupy a number of passes around Loudoun County.
As hats, coats and uniforms began to dry out, the Army of Northern Virginia arrived at the Shenandoah River. Across the river was the town of Front Royal, and Lee ordered his engineers to quickly build another pontoon bridge. On July 22 the southern army crossed the bridge into Front Royal.
A wealthy businessman and prominent citizen of Front Royal, William M. Buck sought out General Lee at the pontoons, to invite him and his staff for refreshments at his home Bel Air House. Lee welcomed the kind invitation and rode to the manor house with some members of his staff. There he was introduced to the Buck family. Nineteen year old Lucy Buck wrote of the encounter in her diary. “The old gentleman greeted us with such a warm, fatherly manner.” General Lee along with his staff including Majors Taylor and Talcott enjoyed fresh buttermilk while Lucy and her sister Nellie entertained with songs of the south.
This brief respite of time with the Buck family had been most welcome for General Lee, but upon returning to his army he warned his staff, “We must now prepare for harder blows and harder work.”
General Robert E. Lee & Major Walter H. Taylor
Falling Waters - Williamsport, Maryland - July 13, 1863
After the battle of Gettysburg, the Army of Northern Virginia retreated south in a torrential rain storm that lasted for two days. As General Robert E. Lee's army reached the Potomac River at Williamsport, they found a swollen, raging and impassable river. A pontoon bridge near the town had been broken up by a Federal raiding party leaving Lee's army in a perilous position. With the river so high some predicted it might be a week before the river could be crossed and Federal forces had already begun probing for an opening to attack. With the Potomac River to their backs, a full scale attack by US General Mead's army would be disastrous.
General Lee issued orders for his commanders to set up defensive positions around the army and prepare for battle. Soon a mixed force of Federal cavalry and artillery appeared threatening to capture wagons carrying wounded soldiers. General J.E.B. Stuart and his cavalry along with infantry were able to push back the enemy probe. Lee turned his attention to his wounded soldiers and ordered any ferry boats to begin transporting the injured to the south bank. Lee then gave Major J. A. Harman the assignment to somehow rebuild the pontoon bridge.
General Lee wrote to his wife, "Had the river not unexpectedly risen, all would have been well with us; but God, in His all-wise providence, ruled otherwise, and our communications have been interrupted and almost cut off." By July 13 Lee's prayers were answered. The river had receded to about 4 feet and Major Harman had reconstructed the pontoon bridge using wood from old warehouses, and recovered boats from down river. General Lee decided to attempt the crossing of his army under the cover of night.
Disheartening to all it began to rain again that afternoon and by nightfall the men were facing another "pouring from the skies" wrote Col. Alexander. All night the army labored to cross the Potomac. General Lee sat on his horse at the north end of the bridge encouraging his men throughout the whole night. At times the rain came down so hard it was difficult to keep the three or four torches alight to guide the procession. The shaky bridge miraculously held together "as it swayed to and fro, lashed by the current."
By morning a great weight seemed to be lifted from General Lee's shoulders, as most of the army had crossed into Virginia safely. In the distance the guns of the rear guard under the command of General Henry Heath could be heard. Heath and Pender's battle at Falling Waters was soon over, and the rest of Army of Northern Virginia was back on home soil. This would be the southern army's last crossing of the Potomac River.
These are the latest releases from John Paul Strain and only available through licensed dealers.
What is an Artist’s Proof (AP)? An Artist's proof has a perceived higher value in the market place due to their limited supply and availability. The Artist's proof edition is signified with "Artist Proof" or "AP" in front of the number (AP 1/5).
What is a Printer's Proof (AP)? A Printer's Proof also has a perceived higher value in the market place due to their limited supply and availability. The Printer's Proof edition is signified with "Printer's Proof" or "PP" in front of the number (PP 1/5).
The prints by John Paul Strain are done on lithographic paper. Artist’s Proof prints are unique because John Paul Strain prints two small Remarque paintings in the white border at the bottom of the prints.
What is a S/N Limited Edition Print? A John Paul Strain S/N Limited Edition Print is a signed and numbered edition of identical prints numbered sequentially and individually signed by John Paul Strain, having a limit to the number in the edition. These S/N Limited Edition Prints and Artist’s proof prints are produced using museum quality inks and pH neutral (acid-free) paper. All of our prints are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
What is a Canvas Giclée? John Paul Strain's canvas giclée (pronounced zhee-CLAY) is an individually produced, high-resolution, high-fidelity reproduction done on a special large format printer. Giclée is a French term that means "spray of ink" and is produced from digital scans of the original artwork. More than four million droplets per second in a fine stream of ink is sprayed onto a specially treated canvas. Our giclées have passed the 75-year ink-fade test and are produced on acid free, pH balanced archival canvas. Each giclée is hand-signed by John Paul Strain and includes a "Certificate of Authenticity." The Studio Canvas Giclée will be signed and numbered. Approximately 17" x 24" in size.
What is a Canvas Giclée? John Paul Strain's paper giclée (pronounced zhee-CLAY) is an individually produced, high-resolution, high-fidelity reproduction done on a special large format printer. Giclée is a French term that means "spray of ink" and is produced from digital scans of the original artwork. More than four million droplets per second in a fine stream of ink is sprayed onto a specialty paper. Our giclées have passed the 75-year ink-fade test and are produced on acid free, pH balanced archival canvas. Each giclée is hand-signed by John Paul Strain and includes a "Certificate of Authenticity." We custom frame John Paul Strain paper giclées. The Classic Canvas Giclée will be signed and numbered. Approximately 23" x 33" in size.
These are special pieces of John Paul Strain Art that we have framed and available for you.