SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — A historic Civil War mural that bounced, mislabeled, from museum to museum for several decades has emerged from storage, its identity reclaimed. But because of its size, its owners are still pondering where it can be displayed.
From 1887 to 1958, “The Battle of Resaca,” a 5-feet-by-12-feet oil-on-canvas mural by the Civil War artist James Walker, hung in an imposing brick and granite edifice on the Upper West Side.
“These murals were kind of spectacular at the time,” said Courtney Burns, director of the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs. “They were meant for public viewing. They didn’t have movies back then. They were a source of entertainment. They had a lot of characters in them. Viewers would take their time to look at all the elements.”
And then “Resaca” lost its home. The building, the former armory of the 12th Regiment, was razed to make room for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The mural was rolled up and sent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for safekeeping, before heading to the United States Military Academy at West Point in the 1960s for a Civil War centennial celebration. Somehow, during its travels, the painting was incorrectly labeled a scene from Gettysburg. From West Point, it went into storage at the state Capitol in Albany, then at an armory in Albany and then at the nearby Watervliet Arsenal before landing in 2002 at the New York State Military Museum, which is run by the state’s Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
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