It was the Spring of
1861. Richmond, Virginia's beautiful capital city on the James River,
was poised to play an important role in history over the next four
years. Our nation was divided...and a war between the states pitted
brother against brother, cause against cause. The Civil War had begun.
Richmond, long a center for commerce and transportation, was to become
the Capital of the Confederacy. The Stars and Bars flag flew at
Tredegar Iron Works first...and then over the State Capitol Building.
Defended by the forces of General Robert E. Lee, the city of Richmond
flourished in the early months of the war. Its factories and mills
produced much of the goods for the people of the South. The people of
Richmond maintained their strength and dignity as the war eventually
took its toll on the city. By 1865 the city's downtown, once alive with
activity at the basin of the Kanawha Canal, was reduced to smoldering
ruins after a devastating fire. However, in spite of it all, the
indomitable spirit of Richmond prevailed and the city was reborn.
Today, the city of Richmond is a vital and diverse center for commerce
and the arts; a city that has successfully combined its historic past
with the present.
In creating this piece, Paul McGehee conducted extensive research on
Richmond as it was in a time when little photography existed. The
painting is the result of five years work, relying on etchings and
written accounts, to accurately portray the town as it was at the
beginning of the Civil War.