Return of the 69th (Irish) Regiment, N.Y.S.M. from the Seat of War
Oil on canvas
Framed: 117 × 169 × 9 3/4 in. (297.2 × 429.3 × 24.8 cm) Unframed: 87 × 140 in. (221 × 355.6 cm)
Inscribed on reverse in paint: The return of the / 69 [?] Regiment / New York. / painted by Louis Lang / 1862-3
Lang's 'great historical picture' depicts the return of the 69th Regiment, New York State Militia, to New York City in the first year of the Civil War after a three months' tour of duty at Washington, D.C., and in Virginia. The unit was organized into a regiment in 1851 and on April 23, 1861, eleven days after the outbreak of the Civil War with the firing on Fort Sumter, the Sixty-Ninth left New York to serve in response to President Abraham Lincoln's call for 75,000 militia. It was mustered into the service of the United States at Washington on May 9 and fought in the first Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) on July 21, where its commander, Colonel Michael Corcoran, was captured by the Confederates. Three days later the regiment was released by the government at the conclusion of its tour of duty and returned to New York. Lang's view was taken from Bowling Green and depicts the debarkation of the regiment from the steamer 'John Potter' at Pier No. 1, North River, at the foot of Battery Place on the morning of July 27, 1861. The Goupil exhibition leaflet states that the incident 'gave scope to the artist; allowing him to introduce the magnificent Bay of New York as seen from Bowling Green, between Castle Garden and Washington Hotel, both of these building having become celebrated from associations of the past.' Castle Garden, originally constructed as a fort, is seen at the extreme left, and at the right is Washington Hotel at the corner of Broadway and Batter Place with cheering Irish dignitaries on the balcony. The regimental parade marched up Broadway to Union Square, and then down Fourth Avenue to Grand Street where they deposited their arms at the Essex Market Armory. The regiment was mustered out of United States service on August 3, 1861, and resumed its position as an artillery regiment in the state militia doing duty as infantry. The 69th Militia was succeeded by the 69th Regiment, New York Volunteers, which was organized in New York City for three years' service (or duration of the war) as one of the regiments of the Irish Brigade in November 1861. A large number of members of the 69th Militia joined the regiment for their new war service. The 69th Volunteers left the state in November 1861 and fought in the war until honorably discharged and mustered out in Virginia in June 1865. The minutes of the Society on October 5, 1886, described Lang's 'highly artistic and carefully painted historic picture in oil' as a 'highly acceptable gift' and 'now hangs in the Hall of the Society.'
"Fine Arts," New York Times, October 17, 1862, p. 2. "Fine Arts. A Key Historical Picture," The Albion, October 18, 1862, p. 501 "The Artists' Fund Society, Now Open, The Third Annual Exhibition, on Monday Nov. 17," New York Times, November 18, 1862, Classified Ad, p. 7. "Fine Arts. The Artists' Fund Society," The Albion, November 22, 1862, p. 561. "The Artists' Fund Society, Now Open, The Third Annual Exhibition, on Monday Nov. 17," New York Times, December 3, 1862, Classified Ad, p. 7. "Art and Artists," The Independent, December 25, 1862, p. 4. "Philadelphia Art Notes," The Round Table, June 25, 1864, p. 27. "Art. Painting and the War," The Round Table, July 23, 1864, p. 90. Koke, Richard J., American Landscape and Genre Paintings in the New York Historical Society, Vol. I, New York: The New-York Historical Society, 1982, pp. 258-9. "Return of the 69h," Art Conservator, Vol. 5, No. 2, Fall 2010, pp. 4-10. "The Return of the 68th Irish Regiment," The Irish Times Magazine, July 23, 2011, pp. 10-1. Holzer, Harold and The New-York Historical Society. "The Civil War in 50 Objects." New York: Viking, 2013.
Gift of Louis Lang
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.