By Julian Scott
In 1870 the Vermont Legislature commissioned a painting for the State House by artist Julian Scott to commemorate the valor of the state's Civil War soldiers. The Battle of Cedar Creek, in which more Vermont regiments were under fire than any other engagement, was chosen as the subject. The painting, reproduced here, measures 10 by 20 feet, excluding the elaborate gilt frame also designed by the artist. Scott served as a young fifer and drummer during the war, and was the first recipient of the Medal of Honor for an act of valor. He went on to a successful career as one of the nation's most heralded artists in depicting the Civil War. The painting features many portraits of Vermont veterans, who advised the artist on portraying the battle accurately. The work remains one of the Vermont State House's greatest treasures, dominating a reception room known simply as the Cedar Creek Room.
Captain Thomas Kennedy of the 6th Vermont being carried from the field. He can be seen at the center of the painting.
Captain Thomas Kennedy of the 6th Vermont is the red-haired and bearded soldier being carried from the field. Wounded early in the battle, Kennedy's men brought him to Solomon and Caroline Heater's farmhouse, still standing in the fields ahead. Confederate troops overran the house, leaving Kennedy vulnerable to capture. Mrs. Heater, a Union sympathizer, protected him until Union forces eventually regained the house. She and her husband, a staunch Virginian, had two Confederate soldier sons, but maintained a household with divided loyalties.
Scott painted the canvas over the course of three years at his studio at West Point, N.Y., completing it at locations in New York City, Burlington and Montpelier, Vermont.