The Historical Art of John Paul Strain
John Paul Strain - Historical Artist
Historical Paintings


Generals Robert E. Lee, JEB Stuart, AP Hill & Colonel Walter Taylor
Wilderness of Spotsylvania, VA - May 5, 1864
The Wilderness
The Wilderness Remarque
Remarques on Artist's Proof Paper Giclée Edition

Renowned for their experience, skill, discipline, and morale, the Army of Northern Virginia was better than it had ever been in the spring of 1864. General Robert E. Lee commanded a combat force of 65,000 men, 8400 cavalry troopers, and 213 artillery pieces. Lee’s scouts reported the strength of General Ulysses S. Grant’s army was about 75,000 to 100,000 men, and was streaming down the road that led by Stevensburg to Germanna and to Ely’s Ford at the Rapidan River. General Grant’s plan was to march on the Confederate Capitol of Richmond, seize control, and eliminate the southern government. Grant was the newly promoted “General in Chief” of all Union forces and he promised President Lincoln that no matter the losses his army would sustain engaging with the Army of Northern Virginia, he would not retreat.

Lee promptly ordered his army eastward to meet the enemy advance. General Lee’s plan was to thwart the advantage of Grant’s superior numbers by engaging the Federal army while it was on the move in the thick entanglement of the Wilderness. There Grant’s superior artillery could not be employed in the battle and Lee’s skilled, battle- hardened troops would win the day over the many untested new recruits of the Federal army.

On May 5th General Lee was ready to go forward into the thicket of the Wilderness riding at the head of his Third Corps column. However General Longstreet’s First Corps was still a day’s march away. General Ewell’s Second Corps were advancing along the Old Stone Road and soon reported at 11 o’clock they could see a column of Federals crossing the turnpike toward the Orange Plank Road seeking to turn the Confederate right flank. At about noon, Lee could hear heavy firing from the direction of the Old Stone Road. As the firing steadily increased General Lee could not tell how his Second Corps was faring in the battle and needed to determine where and when to deploy his Third Corps into the battle. For two miles through the heavy woods and scrub growth, Lee, Stuart, Hill, and Taylor, rode ahead of Heth’s division, with no enemy in sight. Lee was very concerned at the separation of the two corps which he had not anticipated.

Shortly before 3 o’clock the reconnaissance of generals turned into a clearing on the left-hand side of the road giving a better view of the ground. Suddenly a blue skirmish line appeared on the general’s left within easy rifle range. It appeared the Federals were just as surprised at meeting graycoats as the generals were at seeing them. Lee shouted orders to Taylor to bring up the troops! Incredibly the Federal troops withdrew without firing a shot! Had they pressed on, they might have made the richest captures made by any soldiers in the war.

General Lee returned to his Third Corps and directed his men throughout the rest of the day. Lee put every brigade and regiment into action to the point there were no reserves left. Not a man in the line could be moved as there was heavy fire on all. But by nightfall the firing died away. The battle would begin the next morning, but soon reinforcements would arrive with Longstreet’s First Corps, changing the dynamics of the battle.

Grant’s army had lost the battle suffering over 18,000 casualties, nearly twice as many as Lee’s army. It was another victory for the Army of Northern Virginia. But as promised, General Grant did not retreat.

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Archival Paper Giclées

200 S/N Paper Giclées - $275
50 Artist's Proof Paper Giclées - $375
Image Size: 19.25" x 26.75"
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100 S/N Studio Canvas Giclées - $275
15 Artist's Proof Studio Canvas Giclées - $375
Image Size 18" x 25"

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Image Size 24.5" x 34"

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5 Artist's Proof Executive Canvas Giclées - $1400
Image Size 32" x 44.5"
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Historical Paintings