General Knowledge Naperville Artist Jim Weren Draws Pencil Portraitsof Civil War Leaders
Byline: Jini Clare Clare Communications
By Jini Clare
As the nation observes the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Naperville illustrator Jim Weren has used his talents as a portrait artist and storyteller to make the history and the people of that era come alive.
Through a series of detailed pencil drawings, intriguing anecdotes and historical facts, Weren tells tales of the Civil War and enhances the history lessons found in textbooks.
"I don't pretend to be a historian or a scholar," the Weren said, "just a well-read hobbyist with a passion for the subject."
Weren's work includes four special presentations.
In his 60-minute program, "The Civil War in General," he highlights the strengths and weaknesses of Civil War generals, including Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Joshua L. Chamberlain, James Longstreet, George Pickett and others.
The artist begins his presentation by paraphrasing the words of Admiral William Halsey: "There are no extraordinary men only ordinary men doing the best they can when faced with extraordinary circumstances."
"In all, there were 1,008 officially designated Civil War generals, but as many as
10,000 men may have served or claimed to have served unofficially as general officers during the war," he said.
"Civil War battles produced more unforgettable generals than any other in the nation's history. They led by example and personality. Whether they proved to be successful or failed, their stories have become a vital part of our heritage."
A second presentation, "Lincoln: Commander in Chief," focuses on Abraham Lincoln and many of the colorful people he dealt with as president.
"Many historians point out that when Abraham Lincoln took the office of president of the United States, he was perhaps the most inexperienced president in American history," Weren said.
"Despite the iconic stature he would ultimately assume, he was, until he entered the White House, simply an Illinois pr airie lawyer, a political operative and a man of great underdeveloped capacities with limited experience.
"From the moment Lincoln took office, he had to manage the enormous military and political dimensions of the war. Owing to his intellect and leadership skills, he masterfully coordinated the people and events surrounding these two aspects."
As president, Lincoln's days were filled dealing with politicians, generals, inventors, bureaucrats, lobbyists, diplomats and his cabinet. …