Allen Christian Redwood and the 55th Virginia Regiment
The artist Allen Christian Redwood is the best known soldier to have served in the 55th Va. Infantry. His illustrations of the Civil War, produced for Scribner's Monthly, Century Magazine and Battles & Leaders between 1878 and 1888, were prized by veterans for their accuracy and some are instantly recognizable to this day. No fewer than forty-six of these pictures were inspired by his personal experiences, or by information provided by his comrades in the 55th. No other unit in the Confederate Army can match its visual record. These forty-six works, along with two others covering the artist's late-war service with the 1st Maryland Cavalry Battalion, form the basis of this study.
Redwood was born at his maternal grandfather's plantation, ‘Prospect Hill’ in Lancaster County, Va., on June 19th 1844.1 The 500 acre estate employed 33 slaves.2 Three or four years later, his parents moved to Baltimore where he attended school. By 1860 the family was living in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Allen began his formal training as an artist at the Polytechnic Institute, a finishing school for young gentlemen.3 At the outbreak of the Civil War, aged just sixteen, he returned to Virginia and enlisted in the ‘Middlesex Southerners’, a company commanded by his first cousin once removed, William (‘Dr. Billy’) Steptoe Christian. Image 1 is the only known wartime photo of Redwood.
1 Confederate Veteran, Vol. XXXI 1923, page 67.
2 Agricultural census for Lancaster Co., Va., 1850. Slave schedule for Lancaster Co, Va., 1850. Entries under the name of Redwood's grandfather, James Chowning.
3 Founded in 1854 as the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. (Article by Cynthia Sanz in the New York Times, January 5th 1986.)