BAY MINETTE – Prints of a painting depicting a turning point in American history that occurred in Baldwin County could soon be available for educational uses or sale to the public following action by the County Commission.
The commission voted Tuesday, May 19, to allow Historic Blakeley State Park to reproduce a painting of the Civil War battle that took place at what is now the park site. The county commissioned artist Rick Reeves to create the painting as part of three works depicting historic events in Baldwin County.
The paintings were commissioned as part of the 2019 commemoration of the Alabama Bicentennial. The other two paintings depict the 1813 battle at Fort Mims in north Baldwin County during the war between Creeks and settlers and the 1814 British attack on Fort Bowyer, at the present site of Fort Morgan, during the War of 1812.
Mike Bunn, Historic Blakeley State Park director, said the original Blakeley painting is now in the Baldwin County Archives Department. The agreement approved Tuesday will allow the park to use copies of the work for education and to allow the public to buy reproductions.
“The commission bought this thing, paid for it, so technically belongs to them and that’s perfectly well and good,” Bunn said. “But I said to them that we have a lot of potential uses for this in educational programs, interpretive panels, even on merchandise or just to sell some prints of this. There won’t be a rush for this, but there will be some demand, so how do we make it happen, legally.”
Bunn said Blakeley will pay the county for the rights to use the painting.
“We’ve got a book we’re working on, it’s a guidebook that’s a history and a guide to the battle. I want to use it on that,” Bunn said. “I also want to use it for some of our interpretive panels that we have planned for the future and, naturally, I want to find some small quantity of prints of some size to be determined that we could have and we could sell to our guests here.”
He said Reeves came to Blakeley and worked with park officials to create a painting that is historically accurate.
“He actually came to the park on a few occasions. We had some meetings. We took him on tours,” Bunn said. “We gave him all the information on the battle, and we had a particular point that we thought could best help people visualize what happened here. It’s an area where we already do some public programming and we knew exactly who was there and what artillery they had and the vantage point we wanted to communicate to help people understand that this was a big open-field battle and you could see guys advancing across this field for a mile in either direction.”
While much of the park is wooded today, few trees were on the battlefield 155 years ago, allowing defenders to see lines of Union troops advancing along three miles of Confederate fortifications.
“Everything’s in there for a reason,” Bunn said. “We wanted something that would communicate the size and the scale and the ferocity of the battle. We just tried to make this sort of a one stop. If there’s one image to communicate what that charge looked like and who was there and what the battlefield looked like, that’s what we’re trying to do and he pulled it off pretty remarkably and we’re proud of it.”
The battle took place on April 9, 1865, several hours after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his forces in Virginia. Blakeley is sometimes called the last major battle of the Civil War.
The title of Reeve’s painting is “The Last Stand for Mobile,” referring to the fact that the battle was the final defense of the city, which surrendered on April 12, 1865.
“We’re very proud of it,” Bunn said. “To get a chance to play a role in getting this thing created and to get it right and to know that we’ve got some significant historic detail in there, that was just a coup. It was a big deal for us and we’re really proud of what he did.”