The Epic Flute Battle

a.k.a - Spirit of '76

Spirit of '76

Painted around 1875 by Archibald MacNeal. MacNeal was born in Bedford, Ohio, in 1836. He fought in the American Civil War and painted several scenes of battles and war. He painted Spirit of '76 after seeing a parade pass through town square and was moved to paint this. MacNeal also painted three murals in the main hall of the Fayette County courthouse and Washington courthouse (Spirit of Electricity, Spirit of Telegraphy, Spirit of the Mail). He is buried in Wellington, Ohio, in the Greenwood cemetery.
Big image

An Art Breakdown

Spirit of '76 focuses on three men in the middle of a battle field, playing drums and flutes. They keep playing despite some clear injuries to themselves and the fact that a war rages on around them (as seen by the dead body in front of them, and the men loading guns in the smokey background). The tone is obviously patriotically with the American flag flying high in the background and the colors of the flag depicted through clothing. Also, the fact that the men keep playing for their country despite the difficulties around them, is a testament to American patriotism. There is also clear symmetry by seeing the diagonal line of the musicians, as well as a diagonal line of soldiers in the background. The painting gives a sense of confusion and lots going on, but a careful breakdown shows that everything is very carefully placed out.

Truth As Told By A Patriot

"I was at that battle and let me tell you something, that battle was one of those moments that makes you proud to be an American. We were walking as a platoon, when suddenly the enemy came out of nowhere and just started attacking us. We put a good fight but we were losing, we were starting to think that surrender might be the best option to try and maybe live through this. We were about to send up the white flag, when I started to hear the beating of a drum and the soft playing of a flute. The fighting stopped for a bit as everyone turned to see what was happening. Over the hill comes three men, vary in age and health, playing the songs of liberty. The song passed through us all like an unseen spirit and suddenly the fight waged on again. We fought with such strength that it was the BRITISH that surrendered, not us. I will never forget that day and I will never forget this country. GOD BLESS AMERICA!" - Jackson Mason

Truth As Told By A Scholar

"It was Tuesday, April 28th, and the colonists were looking for a fight. They moved as a group, seeing a platoon of British soldiers over the hill, they approached. The fight started almost immediately, with both sides fighting without any sign of stopping. Then, three musicians appeared from down the street playing a random song. There was no collation between their appearance and the colonists performance as fighters. The musicians moved on and an hour later, the British retreated for more supplies and troops. It was a small skirmish and nothing more, history will for get this day even happened." - George Harrington

War as told by a fighter

"I woke up thinking that it was another brutal day of fighting. It's not necessarily that I feared death, but news was circulating around that the British had a good chance of beating us in the near future. Our spirits were down, almost at sea level, not knowing the fate of that day. Clearly all of us were for the patriot cause, but the brutality of war has mentally and emotionally dragged us and made us question why we're here instead of with our families.

As I got dressed and loaded up my weapon, I was gloomily greeted by a member of the platoon.

"Another day, another hundred patriot casualties!" he groaned.

I gave a lighthearted sincere smile, and dragged my gun behind me as we got into formation. We all stood with our heads down to the floor as our General, George Washington, began to speak us.

"Listen men, I hear your negative talk about today's battle. Sure, our numbers are down, and the ammo ratio is three to one. Some will die, some will survive and never be able to forget what happened here. But there's a purpose to all of this suffering and hardship. Imagine being able to create a world and government for your children, and your children's children to thrive in. Now, no one knows what will happen, who will die honorably and who will make it out alive, but your lives are counting towards the future of our whole country."

Hearing this, we all remembered the reason for this war, and all the men lifted their chins up a little higher, and began to march towards the British. There was a sense of unity among all, and a common goal. None of us necessarily wanted to die, but we knew if we did, we wouldn't die in vain. As the battle began, my ears were ringing due to the gunshots, but the world fell silent. Sure, war is a gory, terrible thing. But, there was beauty in the blood, artillery, and passion all of the men felt for their country.

Many of our men died, but we miraculously managed to beat the British. The cries of the surviving men are permanently ingrained in my brain. Men cheerfully embraced each other and sang the songs of our future nation. A man with a flute followed by men on drums led the celebration by playing yankee doodle. I knew that it was the will of God. He is the reason I made it through and was able to create a new and beautiful world for the future generations to come." - Edward Smith