Collapse of the Peach Orchard Line - Gettysburg by Bradley Schmehl
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Collapse of the Peach Orchard Line - Gettysburg by Bradley Schmehl ~
July 2nd, 1863 – 2:30 pm--
We are standing on Emmitsburg Road facing west/northwest with Seminary Ridge in the distance. Directly in front of us is Joseph Sherfy’s home, canning house, corn crib (small structure at the extreme left) and, beyond the first line of Confederates, a portion of his orchard. The Confederates closest to us are the 18th Mississippi, of Barksdale’s Brigade; beyond them are the Georgians of Wofford’s Brigade. Both brigades are of McLaws’ Division, Longstreet’s Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.
The colorful zouave troops closest to us belong to the 114th Pennsylvania, Graham’s Brigade (1st Brigade, First Division, III Corps, Army of the Potomac. The captain at the right has ordered the color guard to fall back a distance up the Emmitsburg Road, the regiment’s only route of escape, since at this point the Confederates are not only in their front, but on their left flank and rapidly gaining their rear. The rest of the regiment will fall back to their colors, and the maneuver will be repeated several times until the regiment has arrived safely at Cemetery Ridge and the main Union line.
The dead horses and solitary Yankee corpse in the middle distance, between the two opposing lines of troops, are from Bucklyn’s Battery (also known as Randolph’s Battery), Battery E, 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, whose right gun was posted in the area a short time before. The Sherfy home and outbuildings were occupied by Federal soldiers who sniped at the oncoming Confederates from the windows of the home’s south side. We can see the damage done by Confederate returned fire. The smoke we observe in the distance, from behind the trees just beyond and to the left of the wood-sided canning house is from the guns of Patterson’s Confederate Battery.
The two flags carried by the 114th Pennsylvania’s color bearer differ, though it is hard to see. The flag at the left carries a Pennsylvania state seal in the midst of a blue field. (Some of the seal’s scrollwork is barely visible.) The flag on the right is a regular Union flag. The colors were not captured in this battle. The farmyard fence has been trampled down, probably by the skirmishers of the 63rd Pennsylvania, who were ordered forward and retreated when their ammunition ran out earlier in the day.
About The Artist
As an artist who loves and studies history, Bradley Schmehl has made it his life’s work to research the subjects for his paintings through diaries, letters, books, visiting historical sites, and generally immersing himself in any materials available to him. From the Civil War to the cowboys of the West, Schmehl finds his subjects fascinating. Talking and exchanging ideas and information with others who share Schmehl’s interest in history also offer the artist opportunities to expand his resources. The artist says, “History is a world which is past, yet exerts its influence on us all. It is possible to visit and experience the world of history through the work of writers, filmmakers, living historians, and artists. I want to help open the window on our history so that more people can share in the view.”
Schmehl’s detailed paintings reflect the many historical aspects he includes in his images. As an avid reader, the artist tries to capture in his mind the events chronicled in the books and other materials he reads. Schmehl also consults with historical experts. Armed with all the research available to him, the artist’s goal is always to paint each element of an event or story. From uniforms to weapons to horses to even the time of day and weather conditions, Schmehl’s paintings are as authentic as possible.
The artist usually starts with a rough pencil sketch, mostly done on location, then he engages his models to pose as the various characters in the image and photographs them. Once Schmehl is satisfied that his concept is historically accurate, he commences creating his painting. Working in oil on canvas, the artist creates a rough under-painting. After drying, he over-paints the details and refines his brushwork. Schmehl describes his technique as “painterly realism.” “I strive to capture the true nature of the light, the color, but I make no effort to disguise the brushstrokes. Even while attempting to render meticulous detail, I strive to paint boldly and deliberately.”
Schmehl has traveled throughout the country in pursuit of his subject matter. Extensive trips to Civil War battlefields, to other historical sites, to even being on the range in Texas have allowed the artist to collect and record the many, many notes, sketches, and library of materials that contribute to Schmehl’s fine work. A Schmehl painting gives the viewer a unique perspective on the subject matter portrayed. As the details in the image come to life, an appreciation of history is evident.
When not on a research trip, Schmehl cherishes the time he and his wife, Becky, spend in their 1885 Victorian home with their two cats. As committed Christians, the artist and his wife are active in their church; Brad plays the guitar in the worship band.
Come live history through the eyes and paintings of Bradley Schmehl…it will be a most enjoyable journey.