Franklin D. Briscoe, Pickett's Charge - Battle of Gettysburg
In 1863, on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Union soldiers saw a wall of Confederate troops -approximately 12,500 men -marching toward them across a mile of open ground in a last attempt to break through the center of the Union line. The Union responded with heavy artillery fire. Thousands of men were killed. This moment, known as Pickett's Charge, would prove a decisive victory for General Meade and for the Union, after which the Confederacy retreated from Pennsylvania, never again to fight north of the Mason Dixon Line. General Meade would later build a family mansion, known as Baleroy, here in Chestnut Hill. We have to imagine that he and Charles Knox Smith were acquainted.
Franklin D. Briscoe, who built his reputation on public commissions relating to Civil War subjects, focuses on the intensity of battle at close range. The red of the Union and Confederate flags frames the center action and punctuates the Confederate soldiers as they advance across the horizon. A line of Union troops, muskets aimed and ready, confront their enemy within feet of one another. Briscoe dramatically depicts the second before a Confederate soldier is killed, the white of his shirt and uplifted arms drawing our attention. Slain bodies are scattered in the foreground while Union soldiers prepare to fire the cannon.