Featured Book Reviewer
- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
The Battle of Lookout Mountain is the title of this enormous 13' X 30' painting by English artist James Walker, who is probably best known for his similarly large-scale canvases depicting battles of the U.S. - Mexican War. Currently the centerpiece of the National Park Service's small museum and visitor center at Chattanooga's Point Park atop Lookout Mountain, the painting was supposedly originally comissioned by Union Major General Joseph Hooker to commemorate his victory there in "The Battle Above the Clouds". The photo above shows the painting in its entirety, covering an entire wall in the museum. Below are close-ups that show Walker's meticulous though sometimes questionable attention to details.
Fittingly, at the center is a dramatic meeting of Hooker, mounted on a white charger, with one of his subordinates; directly behind Hooker on a black horse is his long-time friend and chief-of-staff Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield, usually credited as the author of Taps. Other imacculately dressed staff officers complete the assemblage, looking like something out of a scene of Romantic Chivalry; behind them the battle rages along the mountainside.
To the viewer's left, the cavalcade continues; directly behind them is a column of cavalry, presumably the General's escort. In the background is visible the line of the Chattanooga & Nashville R.R. and its cut at the base of Lookout. One of Walker's questionable details can be seen here in the scattering of red kepis among the infantry waiting in the foreground.
To right of center is the team bringing up the first gun of the battery whose battalion commander major is meeting with Hooker; note more of the questionable red kepis scattered about. These artillerymen are also suspiciously well-dressed for combat, wearing not only full-dress shoulder scales on their shell jackets, but also carrying the curved M.1840 Saber for Light Artillery that was usually left stored in the battery baggage wagons.
The sabers themselves are also incorrectly rendered, having the somewhat extreme curve of light artillery sabers, but instead of their simple C-guard knucklebow are shown with the three-bar guard of cavalry sabers. Also notice the proliferation of red Hardee-style hat cords on the enlisted men, NONE of them worn correctly with tassels to the front! Of course these, if worn at all, would be in branch colors with red on artillerymen only, blue on the infantrymen, and yellow on the cavalrymen.