Page 1

inside

the

national collection

“These photographs of artifacts and images from the Civil War make that traumatic era come alive in a way that mere words cannot convey. I found new items as well as old standbys in this book, which stimulated imagination and memories of many hours viewing the objects that connect us to that crucial part of our past.” —David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Truman and John Adams “These photographs of artifacts and images from the Civil War make that traumatic era come alive in a way that mere words cannot convey. I found new items as well as old standbys in this book, which stimulated my imagination and memories.” —James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom “These photographs of artifacts and images from the Civil War make that traumatic era come alive in a way that mere words cannot convey. I found new items as well as old standbys in this book, which stimulated imagination and memories.” —Adam Goodheart, author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening

For the very first time, the Smithsonian showcases the treasures of its Civil War collections in Smithsonian Civil War, taking readers inside public displays as well as private cabinets, storerooms, and vaults to learn the stories of its most fascinating and significant pieces. Curators from thirteen Smithsonian museums and archives crafted this immersive exploration to illuminate the full scope of the political, military, social, and cultural climate of the era. In 150 entries to honor the 150th anniversary of the war, each curator tells a truly unique story focused on one-of-a-kind, famous, and previously unseen relics handpicked from the Smithsonian Institution collections. The objects featured range from military uniforms and weaponry to recruiting posters, portraits, jewelry, letters home, and currency, and span the prewar era, the war, and its aftermath. Spellbinding narrative and stunning visuals transform these treasures into potent reminders of this devastating period in American history. Smithsonian Civil War is history as only the Smithsonian can tell it. Smithsonian Civil War features more than 500 items from thirteen

SMITHSONIAN CIVIL WAR

CIVIL WAR

Smithsonian Kagan

SMITHSONIAN

SMITHSONIAN

CIVIL WAR inside

the

national collection

smithsonian museums and archives and text by its experts in a variety of fields. neil kagan has edited numerous best-selling Civil War titles. As the former

managing editor for Time-Life Books, he created several book series, including Voices of the Civil War. jon meacham is the Pulitzer Prize–wining author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House and Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.

Jacket design by Studio A

US $40.00 / $46.00 CAN ISBN 978-1-58834-389-5

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Smithsonian Books

Front cover: Colonel John Singleton Mosby’s frock coat. Back cover: Major General George Armstrong Custer’s frock coat, worn at his wedding in 1864.

Foreword by Jon Meacham


SMITHSONIAN

CIVILWAR inside

the

national collec tion

Foreword by

Edited by

Jon Meacham

Neil Kagan and Stephen G. Hyslop

Introduction by Michelle Delaney Principal

Smithsonian Editorial Committee James G. Barber, Tom Crouch, Michelle Delaney, Rex M. Ellis, Paul Gardullo, Frank H. Goodyear III, Eleanor Jones Harvey, Pamela M. Henson, Jennifer L. Jones, William S. Pretzer, Harry R. Rubenstein

photography by Hugh Talman

Smithsonian Books, Washington, D.C.


smithsonian civil war

c  ontents Foreword 8 Introduction / Civil War 150

10

1 Wartime Smithsonian

16

2 “Am I Not a Man and a Brother?”

20

3 Ending the Gag Rule

22

23 General Scott and Colonel Lee

74

4 Inventions for Planters

24

24 Parting Ways at West Point

76

5 Prewar Portraits

26

25 Militia Uniforms

78

6 Sold Down the River

33

26 The Seamstress and the

80

7 Skilled Slave Workers

38

8 The Price of Freedom

40

27  Confederate Money Made

9 Frederick Douglass

42

First Ladies 84

in New York

28 The Bowie Knife

85

29 A Call to Arms

86

30 Patriotic Prints for Unionists

88

31 The Death of Ellsworth

92

32 Dashing Zouaves

95

33 Wartime Photography

100

34 Portraits to Keep Loved

102

53 Lincoln’s Henry Rifle

146

54 Civil War Belt Plates

146

55 The Music of War

148

56 Admiral Farragut

152

57 The Vanity of Beast Butler

154

58 A Gift for Secretary Chase

156

59 Early Prisoners of War

158

60 Baseball in Prison

160

61 Civil War Headgear

162

62 The Telegraph at War

168

63 Writing the Emancipation

171

Proclamation 64 Lincoln at Antietam

172

65 Letters Home

174

66 The Iron Mine

178

67 The Destructive Minié Ball

180

68 Printing Presses in Action

182

69 Day of Deliverance

184

70 The Lord Is My Shepherd

184

71 Fighting for Freedom

186

72 Money in Many Forms

190

Ones Close

35 Collecting Cartes-de-Visite

104

36 Pioneering Photojournalists

106

37 Lincoln’s Air Force

108

38 Contrabands 112 39 Keeping Confederates Posted

114

10 John Brown

44

40 Clara Barton

117

11 Fugitives or Freedom Seekers?

48

41 Berdan’s Sharpshooters

118

12 Harriet Beecher Stowe

50

42 The Emergence of Grant

120

13 Bleeding Kansas

52

43 Men of Progress

122

14 Douglas and Lincoln

54

44 The Wartime Patent Office

124

15 “The Animal Himself”

56

45 The Union’s Constructive Genius 128

16 The Election of 1860

60

46 Saving Old Glory

130

17 Dissolving the Union

64

47 Tribes at War

131

73 Winning with Greenbacks

194

18 Passage through Baltimore

65

48 The Young Napoleon

132

74 The Gray Ghost

196

19 Lincoln’s First Inauguration

66

49 Chickahominy Fever

134

75 Coping with the Blockade

199

20 The Fire-Eater’s War

68

50 Hardtack and Coffee

136

76 Gordon’s Journey

200

21 Secrets in Lincoln’s Watch

70

51 Union Infantry Gear

138

77 Southern Illustrated News

202

22 Flags for a New Nation

72

52 Confederate Infantry Gear

142

78 J.E.B. Stuart’s Pistol

204

6


i n s i d e t h e n at i o n a l c o l l e c t i o n

79 Rewarding Grant’s Triumph

206

at Vicksburg

104 Designating Flags

260

133 The Richmond Hoard

319

105 Civil War Plans for Planes

263

134 Death to the Conspirators

320

106 Arming the Navies

266

135 A Funeral Procession

324

270

80 Port Hudson Burial Post

208

81 Colors of the 84th Infantry

208

107 “God Helps Those Who

82 Woodblock Printing

210

83 Searching for Shoes

212

in Gettysburg

84 Depicting Camp Life

214

85 The Sacrifice of Strong Vincent

215

86 A Harvest of Death

216

87 A Haunting Relic of Gettysburg

218

88 Treating the Wounded

220

89 Badge of Honor

224

90 New York Draft Riots

224

91 The General and the Actress

226

92 The Rock of Chickamauga

228

93 The Odyssey of Solomon Conn

230

94 Uniforms at Schuylkill Arsenal

232

95 Long Arms

237

96 At Home in Camp

242

97 Autograph Leaves

244

98 Grant Versus Lee

246

Help Themselves”

1,700 Miles Long

136 The Fate of Mary Lincoln

328

108 The Other War

271

137 Bringing Images of War Home

329

109 The Letters of Solomon Brown

274

138 Gardner’s Photographic

332

110 Equipping the Cavalry

275

Sketchbook

111 Handguns 278

139 The Medal of Honor

336

112 Sheridan’s Warhorse

282

140 Presentation Swords

336

113 Election of 1864

284

141 Honoring Black Troops

340

114 The Miscegenation Ball

286

142 Sojourner Truth

340

115 Aurora Borealis

288

143 A Visit from the Old Mistress

342

116 The Fall of Fort Fisher

290

144 The Voyage of Robert Smalls

344

117 The Thirteenth Amendment

292

145 Remembering Slavery

346

118 Hell and Damnation

294

146 The Moses of Her People

348

119 Surrender at Appomattox

297

120 Appomattox Parole

300

121 Dignified in Defeat

300

122 Inside the Confederate

302

White House

123 The Promise of Freedom

302

124 Grant and His Generals

304

125 Burial Party

306

126 Documenting the Wounded

308

127 The Cracked Negative

310

147 Songs of the South

350

128 A Final Cup of Coffee

311

148 Wars in the West

352

129 A Night with Laura Keene

312

149 Reunions and Rememberance

354

130 Deathbed of the President

314

150 Designing the Lincoln Penny

356

131 Abraham Lincoln’s Top Hat

316

132 Wanted for Murder

318

Object List

358

Index

362

99 Winslow Homer’s War Drawings 248 100 Shattered at Spotsylvania

252

101 Sherman Moves South

254

Images from left to right: Lincoln’s life mask (entry 15), red kepi (entry 61), scarred back of an escaped slave (entry 76), Union cavalry jacket (entry 94), a massive mortar (entry 103), and C.S.A. belt plate (entry 54).

102 Bird’s-Eye View of Andersonville 256 103 The Dictator

258

7


smithsonian civil war


i n s i d e t h e n at i o n a l c o l l e c t i o n

24 parting ways at west point

I

n the spring of 1861, the drumbeats of war reverberated at the U.S. Military Academy, where cadets from North and South now had to choose sides. For John Pelham (1838–1863), the son of an Alabama planter who

opposed secession but stood by the South, the choice was ago­

nizing. Torn in his allegiance, young Pelham wrote Confederate

President Jefferson Davis to ask what he should do. On April 22, eight days after Fort Sumter fell and just two weeks before his graduation, he left West Point to join the Confederate Army. George Armstrong Custer (1839–1876) was one class behind Pelham. The son of an Ohio farmer, he excelled at military drills but neglected his studies and finished last in his class. Because the Union needed officers, Custer and his classmates graduated George Armstrong Custer

a year early. Most cadets remained loyal to the United States, but more than a quarter of those in the two graduating classes joined the Confederate Army. Both Pelham and Custer became famous for the manner in which they fought and died. During the first two years of the war, Pelham led artillery in more than sixty engagements and was promoted to major by age twenty-four. “It is really extraordinary to find such nerve and genius in a mere boy,” Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson remarked. “With Pelham on each flank I believe I could whip the world.” Off duty when fighting erupted at Kelly’s Ford, Virginia, on March 17, 1863, Pelham rushed into the fray and was killed. His body lay in state at the Confederate Capitol in Richmond before burial in Alabama. Custer rose even higher in the Union Army, becoming a brig­ adier general at twenty-three. Yet the “Boy General” remained controversial during and after the Civil War. In 1876 his reckless daring led to disaster at the Little Bighorn, where Sitting Bull’s Lakota warriors killed him and more than 250 of his men. • fhg

John Pelham

soldiers in training Two ambrotypes portray George Armstrong Custer (left, top) and John Pelham (left, bottom) during their West Point days. Custer wears a cadet coatee similar to the one owned by Ulysses S. Grant (opposite), a member of the class of 1843.

77


smithsonian civil war

88 treating the wounded

N

ot even the most experienced military surgeons anticipated the huge numbers of casualties that would be sustained during the Civil War. The Union and Confederate armies entered

the conflict ill prepared to treat the wounded. Each side organized field hospitals and an ambulance corps, but after major

battles surgeons were overwhelmed with men requiring operations. At Gettysburg, the Union Second Corps alone “lost upward of 3,000 in killed and wounded,” a doctor there reported. Lieutenant Frank Haskell witnessed surgeons performing amputations at the Second Corps field hospital. “Their faces and clothes are spattered with blood;” he wrote, “and though they look weary and tired, their work goes systematically and steadily on—how much and how long they worked, the piles of legs, arms, feet, hands, fingers . . . partially tell.” The task of treating wounded men in crowd­ed, reeking field hospitals could be exasperating for surgeons. “If there is one thing more disagreeable or more dirty than another,” an army doctor remarked, “it is that of dressing sloughing, stinking gun shot wounds.” No antiseptics were available then to prevent the spread of infections. But ether and other anesthetics helped surgeons like Lieutenant Colonel William I. Wolfley—a Union physician whose medicine case and instruments are shown at right and on the next two pages—save many lives by operating on wounded men who would otherwise have perished. • jmc

S UR G EON’S S UP P LI ES This field medicine case (opposite), issued to surgeon William Wolfley (inset), contained bandages, silk ligature, scissors, and drugs such as chloroform and ether (right). The ether was sold by Dr. Edward Robinson Squibb, a former naval surgeon.

220

Their faces and clothes are spattered with blood; and though they look weary and tired, their work goes systematically and steadily on. L ieu ten a nt Fr a nk H a sk ell , de s cribing Union surg eon s at G e t t ysburg


i n s i d e t h e n at i o n a l c o l l e c t i o n

221


t r e at i n g t h e w o u n d e d

SURGIC A L T OOL S The instruments shown here were made of steel, with ebony handles, and used mainly for amputation. The four large Catlin and Liston knives in the box opposite were used to cut through layers of flesh. The large saw was used to complete amputations by cutting through bone. The forceps at lower right in the box on this page could be used to probe wounds for bullets, although many Civil War surgeons used their bare fingers for that purpose. These instruments belonged to Lieutenant Colonel Wolfley, who also possessed a surgical handbook that included illustrations and instructions for amputating an arm at the shoulder (above).

223


smithsonian civil war

111 handguns

O

n october 3, 1864, Lieutenant John R. Meigs,

termed “Navy.” Both Colt models were percussion revolvers,

Major General Philip Sheridan’s topographical

which required a percussion cap to be placed at the rear of each

engineer and the son of Quartermaster General

bore in the cylinder before the trigger was pulled, bringing the

Montgomery Meigs, was riding in the rain with

hammer down on the cap and igniting a cartridge filled with

two Union soldiers near Dayton, Virginia, when they overtook

gunpowder and a bullet. As was the case with long arms, few

three horsemen whose capes covered their uniforms. Meigs

revolvers in use during the Civil War fired self-contained metal

called on the men to halt. They were

cartridges that eliminated the need for

Confederate scouts who drew pistols

percussion caps.

and fired, killing Meigs. The Confeder-

Most of the handguns made by

ates captured one of the Union soldiers;

Colt and other American gun makers

the other escaped to tell of the shooting,

at that time were single-action revolv-

which Sheridan considered partisan

ers, meaning that pulling the trigger

warfare. In retaliation, he had houses

performed only one action—firing the

in and around Dayton torched.

gun. Before the trigger was pulled, the

As this incident demonstrated,

hammer had to be cocked manually,

handguns could be potent weapons

which also rotated the cylinder. Some

when opponents met at close quarters

revolvers in production then were

during the Civil War. Some infantry-

double action, meaning that pulling the

men and most officers carried them,

trigger cocked the hammer and rotated

and they were often issued to seamen

the cylinder as well as firing the gun.

and cavalrymen, who were more likely

Most soldiers were accustomed to the

than foot soldiers to come near enough

single action, and few purchased or

to their enemies to make handguns

were issued double-action revolvers.

useful. Although they remained strictly

Colt, Remington, and Whitney were

short-range weapons, those side arms

the major suppliers of Union handguns,

had evolved dramatically in recent

but the government also purchased

years from the cumbersome single-

some from smaller companies and

shot muzzle-loaders of old. That era

imported others from Europe. The

ended in 1848 when Samuel Colt sold a

Confederacy imported more revolvers

thousand of his innovative .44-caliber revolvers to the U.S.

than it produced at home. Unlike Colt, which made hundreds

Army, which issued them to dragoons (mounted infantrymen).

of thousands of revolvers during the war, few Southern con-

A few years later, Colt came out with a lighter, .36-caliber

tractors turned out as many as a thousand revolvers. • ddm

revolver. Because the U.S. Navy was an early customer and the cylinder bore an engraved naval battle scene, that model became

gunman Soldiers like this Union sergeant often posed for studio portraits with handguns. Some were their own weapons, but most were provided as props by photographers.

known as the Colt 1851 Navy Revolver. Thereafter, .44-caliber revolvers were termed “Army” and .36-caliber revolvers were

278


i n s i d e t h e n at i o n a l c o l l e c t i o n

COLT MODEL 1851 N AV Y R E VOLV ER This .36-caliber six-shooter was Colt’s most popular percussion revolver. Nearly 250,000 were made between 1850 and 1873, and many soldiers and lawmen, as well as outlaws, carried them.

K ER R R E VOLV ER The five-shot, .44-caliber Kerr was produced in England by the London Armoury Company and exported almost entirely to the Confederacy. A favorite of Southern cavalrymen, it could be fired in either single or double action.

S TA R R A R M Y R E VOLV ER The .44-caliber Starr was the only American revolver produced in both single and double action during the war. This 1863 single-action model was considered an improvement over the double-action model.

279


smithsonian civil war

C olt 1851 N av y R e volv er NicIquidest expedita ipsandae corrore scimet et officia consequam, utempore vel everere pediae verem enet fuga. Volupta dolut lantion et faccatur? Ignihil lesciat dit, omnis aut quae. Nam

COLT MODEL 1860 A R M Y R E VOLV ER This .44-caliber sixshooter was one of the most widely used revolvers during the Civil War. Many Confederates carried this or other Colt models—or copies of them made by Southern contractors.

L EM AT R E VOLV ER French physician Jean Alexandre LeMat, an in-law of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, developed the nine-shot .40-caliber LeMat, with a 16-gauge shotgun barrel. Nearly 3,000 were shipped to the South.

L EFAUCHEU X R E VOLV ER The French-made .44-caliber Lefaucheux had metallic cartridges that fired when punctured by pins driven by the hammer. Purchased by the Union, it was also carried by a few Confederate officers.

280


han d g uns

S AVAGE N AV Y R E VOLV ER The .36-caliber six-shot Savage has a lower ring lever to cock the hammer and rotate the cylinder, and a trigger above that to fire the gun. Although hard to aim, some 12,000 were purchased by the Union.

GR ISWOL D & GUNNISON R E VOLV ER A Connecticut Yankee who moved to Georgia, Samuel Griswold teamed with Arvin Gunnison in 1862 to produce this close copy of the Colt 1851 Navy Revolver. It was the best revolver made in the South.

R EMING T ON 1861 A R M Y R E VOLV ER Also known as the Old Model Army, this Remington held six shots in a solid frame. Along with its successor, the New Model Army, it helped make Remington second only to Colt in Union revolver sales.

281


smithsonian civil war

316


i n s i d e t h e n at i o n a l c o l l e c t i o n

131 abraham lincoln's top hat

S

oon after John Wilkes Booth shot President

Davis, a Washington hat maker, whose label appears inside the

Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on the night of April 14, 1865,

crown. The hat, which measures approximately a modern size

the War Department recovered his hat and his chair

7 ⅛, is trimmed with two bands: a thin ⅜-inch ribbon with a

from the presidential box. Once the trial of Booth’s

small metal buckle, just above the brim; and a 3-inch grosgrain

co-conspirators had concluded, the two items were no longer

mourning band, discolored over time. The stitching on that

held as evidence, and they were transferred to the Interior

band indicates that it was added after Lincoln purchased the

Department, which stored them with other national relics

hat to signal his ongoing mourning for his son Willie, who

at the U.S. Patent Office. The hat was briefly exhibited there

died of typhoid fever on February 20, 1862. In a very public

in the public gallery. Then in 1867, with Mary Lincoln’s per-

way, Lincoln was linking his own loss with the losses suffered

mission, the Patent Office presented

by so many Americans during the war.

the hat to the Smithsonian along with

Lincoln used his hat as an actor em-

the chair. Secretary Joseph Henry, who

ployed a theatrical prop. He famously

had served during the war as a scien-

stored papers inside its crown, removed

tific advisor to Lincoln, ordered the two

it humbly when speaking publicly, and

items crated and placed in storage in the

threw it down in front of generals to

basement of the Castle. He cautioned the

emphasize his anger. On April 4, 1865,

staff “not to mention the matter to any

Lincoln toured the fallen Confederate

one, on account of there being so much

capital of Richmond, Virginia. A writer

excitement at the time.” Although Henry

for the Atlantic Monthly reported that

did not explain his decision further, it

Lincoln was approached by an elderly

appears that he shared the belief that

black man who removed his hat in trib-

displaying items so closely associated

ute and bowed before the president.

with Lincoln’s assassination was offen-

Lincoln, in turn, “removed his own hat,

sive, and that pandering to curiosity

and bowed in silence; but it was a bow

seekers would disrupt the more impor-

which upset the forms, laws, customs,

tant scientific work of the Institution.

and ceremonies of centuries. It was a

The Smithsonian would eventually return the chair to

death-shock to chivalry, and a mortal wound to caste.”

descendants of the owners of Ford’s Theatre. The hat remained

Because the top hat was so much a part of Abraham Lincoln’s

in storage for twenty-six years, unseen by the public, until it was

persona, and because Lincoln is so much a part of this nation,

loaned to a Washington, D.C., gallery in 1893, after which the

the hat, which the Smithsonian first hid away, is now one of its

Smithsonian regularly placed it on display. Of all of Lincoln’s

greatest treasures. • hrr

personal items in its collections, the hat has become the iconic emblem of the martyred sixteenth president.

STANDING TALL Meeting in October 1862 with General John McClernand (right) and Allan Pinkerton (left), intelligence chief for the Army of the Potomac, Abraham Lincoln wears a top hat like the one he later wore the night he was slain (opposite).

At six feet four inches tall, Lincoln towered over most of his contemporaries. He chose to stand out even more by regularly wearing top hats. Lincoln acquired this silk hat from J. Y.

317

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