Slavery and Civil War

Uncle Tom's Cabin [game]. Salem: W. and S. B. Ives, 1852.

This game consists of twenty playing cards, each with an image of a character or object from Uncle Tom's Cabin. The instructions accompanying the cards are similar to those of the modern-day card game "Go Fish." It appears that W. and S. B. Ives simply placed images from the popular novel into an already existing card game, rather than develop a new game with some connection to the plot of the novel. The playing cards were printed in 1852, the same year that Uncle Tom's Cabin was published as a book. The novel first appeared in 1851 as a serial in The National Era, an abolitionist weekly.


Blakey, A. R. For Sale. By Virtue of a Decree of the County Court of Madison, in the Case of Smith &c. vs. Smith &c., as Commissioner, I Will on the 25th Day of February, 1852, at the Residence of Zechariah S. Smith ... Sell at Public Auction ... 12 Likely Negroes... [Madison County, Va.: n.p., 1852].

This printed broadside offers striking evidence of the system of slavery. Paul Mellon acquired this broadside at the sale of the Thomas Winthrop Streeter collection of Americana auctioned by the Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York in 1966. This sale is undoubtedly one of the most famous auctions of Americana. The broadside's description in the auction catalog simply states, "The text of this broadside speaks for itself."



United States. Army. Dept. of the Ohio. Head-Quarters Department of the Ohio, Cincinnati, May 26, 1861. Soldiers:You Are Ordered to Cross the Frontier, and Enter upon the Soil of Virginia... With printed signature of George B. McClellan. [Cincinnati, Ohio : U.S. Army, 1861].

Although the Ordinance of Secession was passed at the Virginia State Convention on April 17, 1861, the voters of Virginia were not to vote on the referendum until May 23. However, both sides in the conflict began making preparations for war prior to the anticipated vote for secession. On April 23, 1861, both General George McClellan and General Robert E. Lee were given command of their respective militias in Ohio and Virginia. General McClellan ordered federal troops into western Virginia by issuing this broadside on May 26 thus setting the stage for the first major battle of the Civil War. McClellan's order clearly pointed out the delicate political situation in Virginia by emphasizing that his men were to provide protection to "the loyal men of Western Virginia."


[Roesler, J. Nep. Civil War Scenes, Sketched from Nature & Drawn on Stone. Cincinnati: Printed by Ehrgott, Forbriger, 1862.]

Nep J. Roesler served with the Ohio Volunteers and participated in the Federal invasion of western Virginia in late 1861. He recorded his experiences in a series of sketches which he published a year later. While many individual images of battles have been published, Roesler's work is unique for being one of the few series of images that forms a coherent narrative of a campaign.

"Crossing to Fayetteville," one of the twenty lithographs in Roesler's series, captures a scene during the Union advance on Fayetteville (now in West Virginia) in the fall of 1861. By mid-November, after a series of skirmishes with the Confederates, the Union forces had gained control of the town. The occupation of Fayetteville, in combination with Federal victories elsewhere in western Virginia, put the Union army in a strategic position from which to strike at the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, the important artery connecting Richmond and Nashville.



[Homer, Winslow.] Life in Camp, Part 1 and Part 2. Boston: L. Prang, 1864. Set of souvenir cards.

These souvenir cards are part of a set of twenty-four lithographs by Winslow Homer. Like much of Homer's Civil War work, this series focuses on incidents in the daily lives of soldiers, rather than on battle scenes. This was Homer's second collaboration with publisher Louis Prang, one of the greatest American chromolithographers. Homer likely enjoyed these opportunities to work on lithographic projects. While the wartime illustrations he produced for Harper's Weekly had brought him considerable recognition, he was not always pleased with how the woodblock cutters reproduced his artwork for publication. Since Homer drew directly on the lithograph stone, this medium offered him greater control over the final product.



The Heroes of the Civil War. [Durham]: W. Duke Sons, [1888]. With 50 individual biographies, separately published and issued as premiums in Duke Cigarettes.

Marketing of the Civil War commenced almost immediately after Lee's surrender and Civil War paraphernalia has enjoyed an expanding market ever since. W. Duke Sons exploited the popularity of war heroes to promote their cigarettes. The four small biographies, above citation, came as premiums packed with the cigarettes and the "patron" could redeem 100 accompanying coupons for a souvenir album, below.

Souvenir Album



The Myriopticon: A Historical Panorama of the Rebellion. Springfield, Mass.: Milton Bradley, [not after 1890].

This toy contains a panorama of twenty-two Civil War scenes mounted on two rollers that can be turned by a key. This causes the panorama to pass across the proscenium, allowing the viewer to see a performance of selected events from the war. The scene displayed here-the firing on Fort Sumter-is one of the first on the roll.

The Myriopticon is modeled on the mid-19th-century stagings of larger-than-life moving panoramic scenes. One of the most popular was artist John Banvard's panorama of the Mississippi, which he took on tour around the U.S. and England. This massive painting took about two hours to unroll and was accompanied by narration and music. This form of entertainment is one of the precursors of the modern movie. The Myriopticon enabled children to replicate these performances on a much smaller scale. The toy came complete with a poster advertising the performance, admission tickets, and a script.


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