Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Will and Arad Woodard of Co. G, 16th Louisiana Infantry

[Editor's Note: Here's an article written by the author for the American Press in 1993]

DERIDDER -- There are many ways of preserving history and one of the most appealing is with an artist's brush.

One of those wielding that brush is Court Bailey, a talented artist who preserves history through paint and canvas. Since moving to DeRidder five years ago to work as an air traffic controller at the Beauregard Airport, the Idaho native has become particularly fascinated by the War Between the States and the role this area played.

''I became interested in what part Beauregard Parish had in the war,'' he said.

Using living history re-enactors and original photographs as models, he has painted numerous portraits of soldiers and has made a striking bas relief sculpture of the parish's namesake, Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard.

Bailey finds the stories of individual soldiers from letters and diaries particularly compelling.

And one of the most fascinating local stories he has found is the saga of Will and Arad Woodward of the Ikes community, which is located generally between Rosepine and DeRidder.

The two brothers both joined the Confederate Army and both died in the war. According to their military services records, they enlisted in Company G, 16th Louisiana Infantry on Sept. 29, 1861.

The last entry in Arad's record is that he was missing in action at the Battle of Missionary Ridge on Nov. 25, 1863. Will's record shows he was captured in the same battle and later died in a prisoner of war camp.

Before the brothers met their deaths, a younger brother, who was only 11 or 12 years old, ran away from home to join Will and Arad in the Army.

The commanding officer let the boy stay on as a camp helper. When Will and Arad were lost in the battle, however, the boy was sent home.

Bailey tells the story on canvas by painting a compelling portrait of the two brothers from an original photograph.

Superimposed over the portrait of the two young Southern patriots is an outline map of Beauregard Parish showing the Confederate military road which connected Niblett's Bluff and Alexandria.

''Imposing the map and old military road over the two soldiers, it all just seemed to fit together,'' Bailey said.

By connecting the men and the important supply route through the parish, the artist highlights Beauregard Parish's main contributions to the Confederate war effort.

Bailey said between 60 and 70 hours of work went into the painting, which is now in the collection of Gay McKee, a descendant of the brothers.

Another of his most striking creations is the bas relief carving on wood of General Beauregard.

Being from the West, Bailey said he knew very little about the Louisiana general before moving to his namesake parish. ''When I came down, I did some research on him and was impressed,'' he said.

Bailey found that Beauregard was one of the South's best generals, but because he fell out of favor with President Jefferson Davis, he wasn't utilized as he should have been.

The artist's bas relief carving of the general took some 80 hours of work. He began with a free-hand drawing of the picture on three-quarter inch exterior plywood.

He then roughed out the carving and filled in imperfections. ''The scale comes from the painting. It is almost an optical illusion,'' Bailey said.

The artist has also done numerous portraits. While living in the West, his favorite subject was painting traditional American Indians.

In Southwest Louisiana, he has been concentrating on scenes and portraits connected with the War Between the States.

He has photographed the annual battle re-enactment in Merryville and has painted pictures of the living history re-enactors.

Bailey concentrates on the ordinary soldier's life, the boredom of the camp routine interspersed with the terrors of combat.

''Most of the foot soldier's life was spent waiting around. Battles didn't last that long,'' Bailey said.

Since he has a full-time job, he usually does one piece a month. His next major project is a four by six-foot canvas painting of a cavalry soldier.

But he noted he is getting close to retirement from his job, and his ultimate goal is to become a full-time artist. However he said that is not easy to do until an artist achieves name recognition.

''The name is the thing,'' he said. In the meantime, he accepts commission portraits And Bailey has a large family to support. He and his wife of 28 years, Lois, have eight children.

Other than a couple of art classes, Bailey said he has been largely self-taught. ''I started out doing portraits and that's where my real love is,'' he said. He has also done some historic buildings, but he enjoys painting people the best.

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