genre; Civil War
In the fall of 1864, Edward Lamson Henry served as a captain’s clerk on a Union supply vessel that navigated the rivers of Virginia. He recorded his impressions of wartime life in a small sketchbook, “War sketches Oct. & Nov. 1864,” now in the New York State Museum. After the war concluded and he returned home, Henry painted The Warning, possibly using his drawings of soldiers’ uniforms and a new battalion of African American troops for reference. The painting displayed here is one of two versions that Henry completed.
Henry recorded on the back of a photograph of The Warning that the painting depicts an incident in Virginia during the Campaign of 1864. Showing a young boy bursting excitedly into a humble dwelling inhabited by three uniformed men and a woman cooking at a stove, Henry’s painting highlights the fact that African American women frequently fed and sheltered Union soldiers. The red corps badges on the men’s uniforms indicate their enlistment in the First Division, which was frequently called to combat.
movement; interiors; darkrooms; figures; political events
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