Duel Between a Union Cavalryman and a Confederate Trooper, 1887
Permission courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries, www.HA.com
Vital StatisticsAlternate title: Cavalry Saber Duel During “Stuart’s Ride”
Oil on canvas in black and white, 18 x 15½ inches
Signed lower rt: “W. T. Trego,” with the capital letters superimposed in a monogram
CommentaryTrego provided an oil painting in tones of black and white knowing that it would be used as the basis for an engraving. There is at least one other example of his having done this.
The artist's rendering of the duel that occurred during Jeb Stuart’s famous “ride around McClellan” recalls the description given of the encounter in John S. Abbot’s 1873 History of the Civil War in America: “In a conflict which took place between the Union dragoons and this rebel band, there was a singular duel between a strongly mounted Texan rebel and a patriot German trooper, quite in the style of the days of knight-errantry. . . . Both men were adroit swordsmen, and managed their horses with equal and admirable skill. They were so equally matched that the exciting combat was watched with great interest.” Abbot’s account is referenced in the caption beneath Trego’s illustration in Battles and Leaders. (John S. Abbott, The History of the Civil War in America, vol. 2 [Norwich, CT: Henry Bill Publishing Company, 1873], p. 97; Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. 2 [New York: Century Company, 1887], p. 274)
ReproductionsThis work was created for the Century Publishing Company to be used as an illustration in their publications. An engraving by J. W. Evans based on Trego’s painting was used with a magazine article and was published as A Duel Between a Union Cavalryman and a Confederate Trooper in volume 2 of Battles and Leaders of the Civil War in 1887. Century also published the image separately as a print.
In addition to the publication of the image by Century Publishing Company in the nineteenth century, prints based on this image are still available today.
The image was published in Fairfax Davis Downey, Clash of Cavalry; The Battle of Brandy Station, (New York: David McKay, 1959). He incorrectly gives the artist’s name as W. E. Trego.