It took me by surprise, but my tears were joyful. With so many museums, etc. closed because of Covid-19, work on finding source information for the images in First Fallen: The Life of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, the North’s First Civil War Hero has slowed down a bit. What has not? A few authors have posted on Facebook that the publication dates for their books have been pushed back, so I figured mine had as well.
And then this showed up in my Facebook feed!! (Yes–two exclamation marks!) It all seems so real now. I am especially pleased with the cover. 19th-century military artist Alonzo Chappel painted it less than a year after Ellsworth’s death. I saw the original at the National Portrait Gallery in 2011-2012, which featured Ellsworth.
There is no way a print can have the same impact a painting can: the silver flash of Private Brownell’s tin cup at the center of the canvas represents the souls of the dead and dying men; following the gun barrels leads the viewer’s eye to a cross–the cross of martyrs. Ellsworth, Jackson, and Brownell are painted with depth and dignity, as is reporter Ned House, standing behind Ellsworth on the steps. It is a solemn, important image. Even Chappel did not know this event would soon pale compared to the deaths to follow. When Ted Savas suggested it for the cover, I was thrilled. The original is in the Chicago History Museum.
If Covid-19 goes on much longer, this book might indeed be in jeopardy. We are all glad Savas Beatie is still open for business!. I will not bore readers with all the details, but I will say this: Try to buy the book. I think it is a vital addition to the understanding of America’s north at the very beginning of the Civil War. Ellsworth has been forgotten by many, but not because his efforts were unworthy. He simply died before he could do more.
Folks–due to circumstances far beyond my control, I am not able to post responses to your kind replies. Just know I read them all and appreciate your collective Huzzahs! Thanks.