Civil War Mural to be Dedicated in Marlinton
By Tim Walker
In the 1860’s during the height of the Civil War, soldiers wearing both Blue and Gray marched through, and occupied Marlinton, known in those days as “Marlin’s Bottom. That war not only inspired the creation of the State of West Virginia, but has now inspired a new Mural in Marlinton which will be dedicated at 2 PM on Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015. That is a fitting day since it was on a Palm Sunday 150 years ago that the Civil War ended with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. The Mural, painted by Molly Must, a local artist from the Lobelia area of Pocahontas County is painted on the Motor Parts Building, a block east of the McClintic Library in Marlinton.
The dedication is scheduled for 2 PM and speakers include the artist; Kay Goodwin; WV Secretary of Education and Arts and Chair of the WV Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission; Paul Quigley, James I Robertson Jr, Professor in Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech and County Commission President Bill Beard. Civil War music will be performed by Rob Taggart.
In case of rain (or snow) the event will be held in the library.
I recently spoke with the Artist who painted the mural, Molly Must.
“I looked around at other murals of the Civil War in other places and most of them were really glorifying battle scenes and generals and soldiers, but I wanted to not just depict the bloodshed, but depict what normal people went through” said Molly. “What their everyday experiences were like during those years, which was a lot of sacrifice, struggle, women being on their own, their husbands and sons being away at war. Some women went and actually fought as well, I’ve learned a lot about the interesting history there. I really wanted to depict the hometown experience.”
Molly has designed the mural to portray wartime life in our community at about the time of the battle at Droop Mountain. The mural expresses that experience by depicting a number of portraits.
“The center of the mural depicts three women” said Molly. “One who is a matriarch of her family who maybe had a lot of sons go off to war and who maybe is running the family farm and family business alone.”
This matriarch in the middle of the mural was inspired by a very personal person in Molly’s life.
“I actually based that figure on the story of my Great, Great, Great Grandmother who actually put out a fire on the Marlinton bridge that some soldiers past through (started)”, said Molly. “With buckets…carrying buckets of water down to the bridge . Supposedly she alone put out the fire. She had five sons fighting in the Confederate Army”
Molly went on to describe one of the other female figures adorning the center of the mural.
“To her right is an African-American woman who represents one of the three hundred slaves who were in Pocahontas County who waited in great apprehension, I’m sure during the war to know the outcome of their freedom”, said Molly.
To the left-center of the mural is a young girl who represents all the young women who had said goodbye to their brothers and boyfriends as they left for war.
The mural also depicts a ghostly parade of soldiers who represent the ten thousand soldiers who marched through Hillsboro Valley on their way to the Battle of Droop Mountain.
Molly finds it difficult to talk about each portion and each image on the mural since it portrays so much of the community at war.
“There are a lot of portraits of individuals who represent the different roles of a local community who might have seen all these soldiers passing through and all these events happening in different ways” said Molly. “It is pretty hard for me to speak general about the mural because there are so many intricate parts that represent a lot of different stories”
So, perhaps the best way to learn about all these stories is to attend the dedication on Sunday at two PM where you can hear speakers talk about it, and can maybe even get Molly to tell you about any parts of the mural that intrigue you.
“The concluding segment of the mural is the Louis McNeel poem that pays honor to soldiers of both sides who fought for what they thought was right” says Molly.
That short poem reads “Sleep on o gallant men, both Blue and Gray, you gave your all for what you thought was right”