Juxtapositions in Historical Art

I always thought this painting, depicting Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, was very peculiar.  The dark-complected union officer, second from the right, is General Ely Parker, a Seneca chieftain who also served as a member of Grant’s staff (yes, he physically wrote the surrender documents), while standing behind him is George Armstrong Custer, whose reputation among Native Americans is, let’s say, less than stellar (This is somewhat unfair, since his relationship with the Plains tribesmen is rather complicated.  The relationship among different Native American tribes was a bit complicated and several tribes that were enemies of the Lakota did actively support the US government, most notably the Crow.  Among the Crow, apparently, Custer supposedly enjoyed a fine reputation, but I cannot find references now.)  and, more important, Custer was not actually at the Appomattox Court House for the surrender ceremony.  I don’t know the chronology of the painting, but I suspect mid 20th century.  That makes for a very odd period in US history, which the painting reflects even more than the history, a hundred years prior, that it supposedly depicts.


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