“Here is the steed that saved the day…” Popular Imagery of Sheridan’s Ride (February 22-June 12, 2016)
General Philip H. Sheridan’s determination to secure a Union victory at the Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley on October 19, 1864 was well known during the second half of the nineteenth century. Relatively short in stature, General Sheridan (1831-1888) became larger than life through popular accounts of his heroic exploits during battle astride his stallion, Rienzi. As one account reported, “On he rode, his famous warhorse covered with foam and dirt, cheered at every stop by men in whom new courage was now kindled.” The subject of “Sheridan’s Ride” became immensely popular in art and illustration.
The Battle of Cedar Creek was decisive for the Union Army. General William Tecumseh Sherman had taken Atlanta on September 2, 1864. Sheridan’s victory in the Shenandoah Valley a month later helped solidify the Union’s hold over the South and propelled President Abraham Lincoln to re-election.
Capitalizing on the sensation of Sheridan’s victory in the popular press, poet and artist Thomas Buchanan Read (1822-1872) penned Sheridan’s Ride. Often read at political rallies, this poem and innumerable images of “Sheridan’s Ride” were used by the Republican Party to inspire patriotic sentiment. Read’s stirring poetry and his famous equestrian painting of General Sheridan spurred artists like Thomas Nast (1840-1902) and James E. Kelly (1855-1933) to create inspired images of this Union Civil War hero.
W. Parsons Todd (1877-1976), the founder of Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, was deeply interested in American History. Todd focused much of his collecting on historically significant artifacts, like the works on display.
Two Centuries of Cultivating Green Space: The History of Macculloch Hall’s Gardens (May 15-September 1)
This exhibition traces the history of the gardens established at 45 Macculloch Ave. George Macculloch (1775-1858) was an avid gardener who cultivated his 26 acres to feed his family and as a form of creative expression. Credited with growing the first New Jersey tomato, Macculloch kept a detailed journal and notes on successes and failures. Through photographs, design plans and journals, this exhibition traces the history of the gardens from the nineteenth-century kitchen garden and farm, to the Victorian and early-twentieth century gardens favored by later generations of the Miller Family. The exhibition focuses particularly on the history of the mid-twentieth-century design created at the bequest of W. Parsons Todd by the Garden Club of Morristown.