Winslow Homer's Civil War was not a war of cannon or
pistol. His war was not a war of honor or nobility. The war
seen and presented by Winslow Homer was a war of the blade. It was a
war of horror and death and unimaginable terror. Winslow Homer was
haunted by what he saw, and his images show the terror that he
If you have read my other reviews of Homer's Civil War
art, you know of my belief that Homer was fixated on the bayonet. In
most all of his illustrations, no matter what the overall topic or theme,
the blades of the bayonet always come through as a dominant image.
Beginning with the illustration of Abraham Lincoln's inauguration, we see
the cold steel of the fixed bayonets jumping off the page.
Homer's fixation on the blade comes to its full
fruition in this image. Look at the images of terror on the faces of
the men in this illustration. We see men facing death by the sword,
and in their last moments on earth, experiencing absolute complete terror.
On the faces of other men, we see a wild-eyed blood thirsty look as they
prepare to put the enemy to the sword. Perhaps Homer's own terror is
best captured in the looks on the horses' faces. Look at the horses'
eyes. You can see that Homer has created compete terror on the faces
of the horses.
Their are images of over 100 bayonets, swords, and
Bowie knives in this illustration. The image could perhaps have been
better titled, "Homer's Nightmare".
A Note to our Readers
We acquired the images above for the
purpose of digitally persevering them on this site for all to enjoy.
With the digital archive complete, we are making the original, 140 year
old illustrations available for purchase. By selling these
original illustrations, we are able to acquire more material to archive
on this site. If you are interested in purchasing one of the
original Harper's Weekly leafs on this page, contact
leafs are available for a price of $250 a piece, and the proceeds will go to continue to expand the
resources on this site.