Reference Items
Original Art
Water Color - Rock Island Prison by John Gisch

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Private John F. Gisch, Company A, 24th Alabama Infantry earned spending money during his incarceration at the Rock Island Prison by painting war related pictures and selling them to guards and civilians.

His painting of the prison from the outside was apparently a favorite topic.  A near-twin of the painting seen above on the left is in the Rock Island Museum's collection.  Note the colored infantry guards in full uniform on the walls. This original water color is 10˝” X 14” in size.

Gisch painted and sold the other two paintings to prison guard Jacob Weise of the Veteran Reserve Corp when he was assigned to Rock Island.  Pvt. Weise had previously served in Company C, 93rd Illinois Infantry (note: Jacob’s last name is misspelled as both ‘Wise’ and ‘Weis’ in the military records).

The first of these (center above) is of Charleston Harbor during one of the Union ironclad fleet’s assaults on Fort Sumter on April 7th, 1863.  Gisch was temporarily transferred to the Confederate Navy in August of 1863, and could have been in Charleston preparing for that assignment. 

The second (above right) is of the Battle of Lookout Mountain the following November 24th.  By that time, Gisch had rejoined the 24th Alabama, but his unit was not on this part of the battlefield.  Both the 24th Alabama and the 93rd Illinois fought the next day on nearby Missionary Ridge.  Since the Confederates got the worst of Lookout Mountain and the painting is from the Union troops’ vantage point, it is obvious that Gisch painted with a Northern customer in mind, and who better than Pvt. Weise?  Pvt. Gisch apparently used a cover illustration from the Rock Island prison library's copy of Harper’s Weekly to gain this battlefield perspective.

Member - Earl Robinson
Item #: CIV-208

Pencil Sketch - Alexander Simplot

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Alexander Simplot (1837-1914) was an Iowa artist who applied to Harpers Weekly and became an artist/correspondant serving the far-away Trans-Mississippi. This 7” X 11˝” pencil sketch chronicals the spiking of Confederate guns above Island No. 10 by sailors and marines. Simplot was an eye witness to the event and his drawing shows an amazing amount of detail including the actual spiking, musket fire and a tinclad in the distance.

Member - Earl Robinson
Item #: CIV-207