Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Gray Wall by Don Troiani

One of my favourite painted battle scenes of the American Civil war is The Gray Wall, by Don Troiani. The scene it represents takes place during the 1864 Campaign in the West showing one of many skirmishes that occured along the road to Atlanta and beyond between the armies of Joe Johnston ( later John B.Hood) and William Tecumseh Sherman.

These Confederate soldiers are well armed, with imported P53 Enfields rifled muskets (3-band) and locally made Cook & Brother rifles (copied on the P56 2-band Enfield but with furniture wholly in brass rather than steel). Some of their accoutrements are also British, like the cartridge box carried by the soldier standing in the middle, in his shirt sleeves. Unlike with the American boxes (like the one used by his comrade lying at his feet), soldiers were not in fact supposed to grab ammunition from them in the heat of battle. They were only meant for storage, while there was a special "ball bag" to be carried on the front of the belt to be used for loading, which the Americans that received them discarded and used for the leather.
As I experienced as an ACW reenactor, using these boxes slows you down, a clear disadvantage when using muzzle-loaders, as they open only with difficulty.


  1. That soldier loading in the shirtsleeves is risking either losing his cartridges or a chain explosion of his cartridges because he's propped the cartridge box flap open. In reenacting in the US this method was discouraged in my unit because of safety. We had cartridges loose in the top tins of the box and packaged in the lower part of the tins. NCOs ordered us to refit the tops when out of action. Of course my unit used the American boxes.

    What REAL Civil War soldiers did in extreme situations is another matter.

  2. It's easy to see why this is one of your favourite paintings from this period as IMHO Don Troiani is the best modern day painter in both ACW and AWI periods in American history.


  3. My wife bought my copy for me in 1985 for my birthday. I have #209/950
    and it has been in my living room for over 25 years. We just had it re-framed.
    I loved from the first time I saw it listed for sale in a magazine and I love it even more today. Words cannot describe what emotion it evokes for me.