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A Nation Divided.  The Civil War in contemporary prints
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The Civil War: Cartoons & Allegories


Cartoons & Allegories

Washington as Peacemaker
M. Nevin. "Washington the Mediator." From Harper's Weekly. March 23, 1861, March 23, 1861. 9 1/8 x 13 3/4. Wood engraving.

Both the North and the South claimed George Washington as their 'patron saint,' arguing that it was their opponent who was forsaking the principals of the Founding Fathers. Here Washington is shown breaking up a fight between a Massachusetts and Virginia volunteer at the beginning of the Revolution. The message is clear, that the Father of His Country would not want the North and the South to be fighting. There was still belief in the early days of the war that the division between the states could be patched over, a hope that proved in vain. $25

Other Harper's Weekly allegories linking Washington with the Union:

"A Rebel General Startled in his Camp by the Beautiful and Unexpected Display of Northern Light." From Harper's Weekly. New York, May 25, 1861. 5 3/4 x 9 1/8. Wood engraving.

A cartoon from the beginning of the war when many in the North believed their show of resolve would cause Southerners to sue for peace. $25

"Johnson's New Chart of National Emblems." [Flags of the World]. Stone lithography (hand colored). New York: Johnson & Ward, 1863. 16 7/8 x 23 1/8. Center fold as issued. Slight browning. A few chips around the edges, else fine and bright.

A colorful image of flags and signals from around the world, including a number of American flags such as the "American Jack" and a flag of the Hawaiian Islands. Of particular note is the inclusion in this edition of the chart of the flag for the "Confederate States of America (so called)." $225

Battle of Bull Run
Lithograph "From A Pfotho[gr.]" "The Battle Of Bull's Run." 1861. Lithograph. 11 5/8 x 17 3/4. A few repaired tears, and chips in margins. Bottom right corner missing, just affecting last word of attribution. Otherwise, very good image and condition. Weitenkampf: 130.

An unusual pro-Confederate cartoon, lampooning the Northern forces and politicians in the wake of the first Battle of Bull Run, July 1861. In this early engagement of the Civil War, the Union attack on the Confederate position was turned back. An initially orderly retreat turned into a full-fledged rout, with the troops racing back to Washington. The battle is noteworthy for the many politicians and civilians, including many women, who carriaged from Washington in order to watch an anticipated Union victory. These spectators joined in the flight after the battle, adding significantly to the confusion and panic. This print caricatures the Union troops, politicians, and civilians, including "ladies as sputatiers," all of whom are shown fleeing from the Confederate troops in the background. A key at bottom identifies many of the participants, including Jeff. Davis, Gen. McDowell, and several members of Congress. The central figures are from the New York Fire Zouave troop, who were routed by the Virginia Black Horse Cavalry. This event was a long-time sore point for the Union infantry and was ridiculed in a number of popular illustrations, including this one. This separately issued print is unidentified other than the claim that it was based on a 'pfothograph.' Though pro-Southern, the print may have been issued in the North, where sympathies had not yet fully swung behind the Union cause. $1,200

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