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Smithsonian features Grant, Lee from Civil War

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The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., is continuing a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a new exhibit focusing on the two generals who led Confederate and Union troops into battle.

The museum opened its latest "One Life'' exhibit series last week with a gallery devoted to Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. It will be on view through May 2015.

The Civil War rivalry between generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee is one of the most memorable in American military history. Lee was a polished and seemingly invincible Confederate commander until he encountered Grant, a rough-hewn upstart, in the Virginia campaigns of 1864 and 1865.

The Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865. Ultimately, the Union would prevail, in part through the adoption of a total war philosophy of destroying armies and resources. This exhibition will consider the personal lives and professional rivalries of Grant and Lee through paintings, photographs, documents, and associative objects.

The show uses images mostly from the National Portrait Gallery collection, including photographs, documentary drawings and artist renderings of important events during the final year of the war. It also includes the death mask of each man's face. A key painting is Winslow Homer's "Skirmish in the Wilderness'' from Connecticut's New Britain Museum of American Art.

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