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John Paul Strain


Christmas Carol

Price:  $479.95
Item#:  28423

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26 x 19.5 in.
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about this piece
John Paul Strain's2006 Christmas Fine Art Print release The Christmas Carol, depicts the Opequon Presbyterian Church, Kernstown, Virginia - Winter of 1862.

The years of 1861 and 1862 had been momentous for Thomas J. Jackson. He had gone from being an unknown VMI professor with a Major's commission, to the rank of Lieutenant General commanding the II Corps in General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. In battle after battle Jackson's army had defeated those who opposed them. 'Stonewal' was now one of the most famous and feared generals of the war.

Snow blanketed the countryside on November 22 as Confederate divisions gathered in Winchester. General Lee's communiques to Jackson made it clear that it was time to consolidate the army, preparing for the Union Army's next move. Jackson's Corps numbered 33,000 troops, the largest he had ever commanded. The task of organizing and preparing the new II Corps was daunting, but the General was up to the challenge and kept on the move.

On an early November morning at the Opequon Presbyterian church, members of the choir practiced a favorite Christmas carol for the passing Stonewall Jackson and his men. With the fate of his army and possibly the South to be decided in the coming days, the beautiful melody of a Christmas carol in the distance uplifted General Jackson and his men as they prepared to leave for Fredericksburg.

Artist's Comments

Established in 1737 the Opequon Presbyterian Church is known as the Mother Church of the Valley, being the oldest organized church in the Shenandoah Valley. During the American Revolution the Opequon congregation sent many of its sons to fight in the War for Independence. In 1861 Opequon joined with other southern congregations in the formation of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederacy, sending more sons to fight for southern independence. The church sustained some damage during the First Battle of Kernstown on May 25, 1862, but continued to serve its members until after further damage in 1863 forced parishioners to move services to the stone school house next to the sanctuary.

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