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Next in importance is the Artillery, whose work it is to open the way for, and cover the movements of, the other arms by destroying the enemy’s defences at long range, silencing his artillery, and demoralizing his infantry; or, at short ranges, to crush them by a rapid fire of case and shrapnel.

Brooke gun (Made at Tredegar Iron Works) on James River above Dutch Gap Canal

Brooke gun (Made at Tredegar Iron Works) on James River above Dutch Gap Canal

Ploughshares into swords : Josiah Gorgas and Confederate ordnance Frank E. Vandiver College Station : Texas A & M University Press, 1994 Hardcover. xiv, 349 p. : ill. ; 23 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 315-322) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG


Begun in the late 1940’s research for this book started with Vandiver’s interviewing the Confederate ordnance chief’s daughters and included perusal of Gorgas’s 1857-1877 journals.


Gorgas is credited with creating, in the Confederacy’s ordnance department, “success beyond expectation.” With the South having far less capacity to produce arms than the North and with communications from the field severely hampered throughout the war, the former West Pointer nevertheless was responsible for the fact that, as some have argued, the South kept the war alive as long as it did.

Richmond, Virginia. A light Brooke rifle. (3-inch gun)

Richmond, Virginia. A light Brooke rifle. (3-inch gun)

Supplying the South with firearms was such a problem in the beginning that pikes and lances had been ordered to arm troops. Lead shortages were chronic, and at one point in 1863 a bureau circular restricted cartridge issues to three per man per month. But supplies never dried up completely, and Gorgas kept his eye on the situation in every theater.

Fall of Richmond scene after the fire. Inscribed within image as identifiers: Belle Isle [without the prison]; Peterbugh[sic]& Richmond RR.; Labratory[sic]; Holywood Cemetery; Tredegar Iron Works; Broken ground; Tredegar; Tredegar; Artillery; Ordinanc[e] Storehouse; Tredegar Foundry; Artil[l]ery Workshop; Arsenal. Published in: Harper's Weekly, 22 April, 1865, p. 253, as: The City of Richmond, Virginia, Looking Westward.

Fall of Richmond scene after the fire. Inscribed within image as identifiers: Belle Isle [without the prison]; Petersburg[sic]& Richmond RR.; laboratory[sic]; Holywood Cemetery; Tredegar Iron Works; Broken ground; Tredegar; Tredegar; Artillery; ordinance Storehouse; Tredegar Foundry; Artillery Workshop; Arsenal. Published in: Harper’s Weekly, 22 April, 1865, p. 253, as: The City of Richmond, Virginia, Looking Westward.

As Vandiver wrote, “one of the greatest testimonials to the efficient manner in which Gorgas had organized the bureau is the performance of his field officers during the last hectic days before the surrender of the Army of the Tennessee.” Vandiver adds that “the main reason why the bureau managed to go on functioning was that Gorgas had given so much authority to the lower echelons.” President Jefferson Davis rewarded Gorgas with a promotion to brigadier general in November 1864. “With Sherman ravaging the industrial heart of the shrinking Confederacy, Gorgas had done all he could to make his bureau weather the hurricane,” Vandiver wrote, adding, “He thought he had succeeded, and he was almost right.”

Confederate battery on James River above Dutch Gap Canal.

Confederate battery on James River above Dutch Gap Canal.

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The soil and climate are best adapted to the growth of Cotton, Sugar, Corn, potatoes &c, which grow very luxuriantly. Fruit peculiar to this climate or latitude can be raised without any difficulty–the peach, pear, plumb, fig, grape, pomegranite, quince, apricot, orange, lemon, banana &c. &c. are at present growing in the colony and I am informed do remarkably well–for melons, pumpkins, squashes, cucumbers, and all vines it surpasses any country I ever saw–you have but to plant them and you have almost a certainty of a plentiful harvest…

Whether you came to Texas at the behest of the first impressario of Anglo settlement of the most unusual spot under the heavens, at the beginning of the 20th century to turn a dessert into a garden in west Texas or in the 21st century to escape the taxes and madness of the blue states the one thing you may be very sure of is than between the promoters and speculators you have been lied to about the land you bought. Either the fire ants have replaced the Comanches, the crops that grew last year wither in this year’s drought, your oil and gas reservoirs have been depleted by slant drilling or that special slice of paradise you found is being split by TXDOT for another highway for another factory. The most amazing thing is that people keep coming and keep succeeding and keep making this the best place on earth to live!


Wife of Texas tenant farmer. The wide lands of the Texas Panhandle are typically operated by white tenant farmers, i.e., those who possess teams and tools and some managerial capacity

Wife of Texas tenant farmer. The wide lands of the Texas Panhandle are typically operated by white tenant farmers, i.e., those who possess teams and tools and some managerial capacity

Land of bright promise : advertising the Texas Panhandle and South Plains, 1870-1917 Jan Blodgett Austin : University of Texas Press, 1988 Hardcover. 1st ed. 153 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Bibliography: p. 135-146. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Stratford, Texas. Oil and wheat storage in the Panhandle

Stratford, Texas. Oil and wheat storage in the Panhandle

Land of Bright Promise is a fascinating exploration of the multitude of land promotions and types of advertising that attracted more than 175,000 settlers to the Panhandle-South Plains area of Texas from the late years of the nineteenth century to the early years of the twentieth. Shunned by settlers for decades because of its popular but forbidding image as a desert filled with desperadoes, savage Indians, and solitary ranchers, the region was seen as an agricultural and cultural wasteland. The territory, consequently, was among the last to be settled in the United States.

Sherman County, Texas. Roughnecks on core drilling crew for the Phillips Petroleum Company

Sherman County, Texas. Roughnecks on core drilling crew for the Phillips Petroleum Company

From 1890 to 1917, land companies and agents competed to attract new settlers to the plains. To this end, the combined efforts of local residents, ranchers and landowners, railroads, and professional real estate agents were utilized. Through brochures, lectures, articles, letters, fairs, and excursion trips, midwestern farmers were encouraged to find new homes on what was once feared as the “Great American Desert.” And successful indeed were these efforts: from 13,787 in 1890, the population grew to 193,371 in 1920 with a corresponding increase in the amount of farms and farm acreage.

Texas panhandle, Moore County, Texas. Freight train

Texas panhandle, Moore County, Texas. Freight train

The book looks at the imagination, enthusiasm, and determination of land promoters as they approached their task, including their special advertisements and displays to show the potential of the area. Treating the important roles of the cattlemen, the railroads, the professional land companies, and local boosters, Land of Bright Promise also focuses on the intentions and expectations of the settlers themselves.

Working cowboy

Working cowboy

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It must be remembered that we make war only upon armed men, and that we cannot take vengeance for the wrongs our people have suffered without lowering ourselves in the eyes of all whose abhorrence has been excited by the atrocities of our enemies, and offending against Him to whom all vengeance belongeth… General Robert E. Lee, 1863

mccaslin005An accident – in philosophy – is an attribute of a subject which does not affect its essence. The wearing of a colonel’s uniform is a good example. Both Washington and Lee wore colonel’s uniforms during the revolutions that they participated in as a matter of honor – it was the highest rank they had achieved in a recognized military organization and they waited for the success of their revolutions prior to being granted a recognized generalcy from from an established government. This book is part of a genre of interesting books about the accidents – and probable affectations – that unite George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

What is more important – and often not covered adequately – is the similarities in the essential values of these two men. The illustration above is the 1773 Christ Church, where both George Washington and Robert E. Lee once worshipped, in Alexandria, Virginia. In the more than three quarters of a century since Washington worshipped there the locus of power had shifted from what was a predominantly Anglo-Catholic mid-Atlantic and South to the mish mash of New England Protestantism that combined the worst of Calvin and Concord which had created a secularism that had no discernable theology and thus no basis for any morality as their triumph demonstrated.

By all means enjoy the comparison of the greatest man of his age [George III’s assessment of Washington] and one of the last adherents to his code but also search deeper for the true spring from which both of their values came.

Lee in the shadow of Washington Richard B. McCaslin Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, c 2001 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. x, 260 p. : ports. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [235]-251) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG


While many scholars agree that Robert E. Lee’s loyalty to Virginia was the the deciding factor in his decision to join the Confederate cause, Richard McCaslin goes further to demonstrate that Lee’s true call to action was the legacy of the American Revolution viewed through his reverence for George Washington. Like Washington, Lee wore a colonel’s uniform, He rode a horse named for one of his idol’s mounts, Traveller, and carried one of Washington’s swords. On January 19, 1861, his fifty-fourth birthday, Lee sat alone in his room at Fort Mason reading the latest book about his hero as he faced the prospect of war.


In his thematic biography of the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. McCaslin locates the sources of Lee’s devotion to Washington and shows how this bond affected his performance as a general in battle. He argues that Lee used the strategy of attrition to attempt to persuade the North to quit just as Washington had wearied the British. But reliance on Washington as a role model led to tragic irony: in the 1864 campaign it was Lee’s Confederates who became trapped like the British in the Yorktown campaign.


After his surrender. Lee could no longer emulate Washington the revolutionary, and he became the president of a small college that bore Washington’s name and surrounded himself with mementos of his hero. Challenging conventional interpretations, Mc-Caslm’s absorbing book lays to rest the argument that a posthumous “Lee cult” superimposed Washington symbolism onto Lee’s life to link it with the Revolution. Rather, Lee himself created the association, which yielded an enduring paradox: Washington earned his reputation as a statesman, whereas Lee never escaped his self-assumed image as a revolutionary in Washington’s shadow.

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The most dangerous madmen are those created by religion, and … people whose aim is to disrupt society always know how to make good use of them on occasion… Diderot


Three-quarter length portrait of Brown accompanies text describing the insurrection at Harper’s Ferry. Caption under Brown’s picture: John Brown, now under sentence of death for treason and murder, at Charlestown, Va. From a photograph taken one year ago by Martin M. Lawrence, 381 Broadway, N.Y.

The secret six : the true tale of the men who conspired with John Brown Edward J. Renehan, Jr. Columbia : University of South Carolina, 1996 Softcover. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG

They are almost without exception dilettantes – one carries the soubriquet Chevalier for his attraction to romantic causes – who could not gain public office even with all their wealth [one was the largest landowner in the United States]. Neither their wealth nor the positions as doctors, teachers and preachers made them immune from the false logic of American messianic thought that derived from transcendentalism and they suffered in equal parts from the mad visions of John Brown and their cynical desire to use his madness to press their own goals – so long as they did not have to share the traitor’s scaffold with him. Their sort has contaminated this country since its founding and continues to contaminate it during its current confounding and the only shortcoming in Renehan’s work is that he does not bring them to history’s scaffold!


Photograph shows a head and shoulders portrait of Higginson in civilian clothing. He was an Abolitionist in Worcester, Mass., working as an Underground Railroad operator.


Historic American Buildings Survey COPY OF EXTERIOR PHOTO PUBLISHED IN HIGGINSON, MARY THATCHER, THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON, THE STORY OF HIS LIFE (BOSTON AND NEW YORK, 1914), OPP. p. 30. Gift of Cambridge Historical Commission – Stephen Higginson Jr. House, 7 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, Middlesex County, MA


Theodore Parker, 1810-1860, half-length portrait, standing behind pulpit, lecturing in New York, facing right. Wood engraving in the Illustrated London News, September 27, 1856, p. 314.







Issued in the North during the Civil War, the melodramatic portrayal of an apocryphal incident from the life of John Brown must have had unmistakable propagandistic overtones. In actuality a violent antislavery fanatic, Brown was convicted in 1859 of treason, inciting slave rebellion, and murder in his abortive attempt to seize the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry and ignite an armed slave insurrection in the South. Yet through his trial and execution at Charles Town, Virginia, in December 1859, Brown became for many Northerners a martyr of the abolitionist cause. Here the artist shows Brown calmly descending the steps of the Charles Town jail, hands tied behind his back. “Regarding with a look of compassion a Slave-mother and Child who obstructed the passage on his way to the Scaffold. –Capt. Brown stooped and kissed the Child–then met his fate.” The strikingly madonna-like slave woman is seated on a stone railing, holding an equally Christ-like infant. One of Brown’s guards reaches forward, about to push her away. In the foreground a mustachioed and elegantly uniformed soldier waits impatiently, hand on his sword hilt. Behind Brown a figure from the American Revolution, wearing a tricornered hat emblazoned “76,” watches with concern. The flag of the state of Virginia with the motto “Sic semper tyrannis” flies prominently above Brown’s head. A statue of Justice, with its arms and scales broken, stands forgotten behind the railing at left.

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The Southerners were fighting with the energy of despair… at all events, they were determined to command the enemy’s respect for their courage and ability, and I don’t think any brave sailor or soldier ever withheld it… Admiral David Dixon Porter [USN]

Admiral David Dixon Porter : the Civil War years Chester G. Hearn Annapolis, MD : Naval Institute Press, c 1996 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xx, 376 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 355-376) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG 


The U.S. Commissioners for the 1st Japanese embassy to the U.S., May – July 1860. Commander Sidney Smith Lee, Captain Samuel F. DuPont, Lieut. David Dixon Porter


David Dixon Porter, three-quarter length portrait, seated, facing left.



The Naval attack on Forts Jackson and St. Philip, New Orleans. Night scene illuminated by gun flashes from Federal gunboats on Mississippi River. Apr. 1862.



Print shows the Union vessels under the command of Admiral David D. Porter at the mouth of the Yazoo River, Mississippi, December 1862.



Prints show Union troops marching through the countryside from Bruinsburg to Port Gibson, and Union vessels, under the command of Admiral David D. Porter, engaged in naval bombardment of Confederate guns at Grand Gulf, Mississippi, April 29, 1863.



Print shows a dam constructed by Union troops to raise the water level to a depth that would enable Union ironclads to continue on the Red River at Alexandria, Louisiana.



Woman symbolizing Liberty(?) standing between portraits of William T. Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, Philip Sheridan, David Dixon Porter, David Glasglow Farragut, and John Adolphus Bernard Dahlgren, surrounded by scenes of episodes of the Civil War.

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We have found one another again as brothers and comrades in arms, enemies no longer, generous friends rather, our battles long past, the quarrel forgotten—except that we shall not forget the splendid valor… Woodrow Wilson


The Gettysburg campaign – and it is most properly considered a campaign rather than a battle or a series of battles – ended on July 4 as did the battle of Vicksburg. Almost mythically the victories are linked to the date as though it had some amuletic effect. Never mind that the side that was fighting for the principles enshrined in the Declaration and Constitution lost both battles the victors have written their history and claimed their glory and that is where the cultural understanding lies.


By 1913 the business of reconciliation was by no means complete however the guns had been silent for half a century. Woodrow Wilson – the first president born in Virginia since John Tyler and the first Southern president since Zachary Taylor – had become president by adding the “solid” South to the Democratic column for the first time in fifty years. Although today’s politically correct histories want to remember him for being an anglophile and an internationalist in 1912 he was a product of the Democratic machine that would help dismantle the civil service of the Republicans that, through patronage, had bought black votes since 1865.


The reconciliation presided over by Wilson on his first Independence Day in office was the fifty year reunion at Gettysburg of the men of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Confederate States of America. There is nothing to be said that can detract from their achievements, their bravery and the jobs they had done after the War in rebuilding the South and bringing the nation to its prominence that would enable it to save Europe. What can be said is that the campaign was in many ways the passing of the old order and Coddington’s study gives the most comprehensive picture we have of one of the last battles before the advent of truly modern warfare where Sherman and Grant would introduce the tactics that would end at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


There are thousands of images available of the campaign and of the battlefield in its current repose as a park but even though the battle has seen its sesquicentenary we have chosen to illustrate this post with the pictures of the men who came together one last time in 1913 to celebrate the triumphs of their youth in the companionship of age before they faded away. The politician may give the occasion its voice but it is the veteran who gives it poignancy.


The Gettysburg campaign : a study in command Edwin B. Coddington New York : Scribner, 1984 Softcover. xiv, 866 p., [44] p. of plates : ill. ; 21 cm. Bibliography: p. 823-839. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG


The Battle of Gettysburg remains one of the most controversial military actions in America’s history, and one of the most studied. Professor Coddington’s is an analysis not only of the battle proper, but of the actions of both Union and Confederate armies for the six months prior to the battle and of the factors affecting General Meade’s decision not to pursue the retreating Confederate forces. This book contends that Gettysburg was a crucial Union victory, primarily because of the effective leadership of Union forces — not, as has often been said, only because the North was the beneficiary of Lee’s mistakes. Scrupulously documented and rich in fascinating detail, The Gettysburg Campaign stands as one of the landmark works in the history of the Civil War.


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The Constitution provides for every accidental contingency in the executive – except a vacancy in the mind of the president… Senator John Sherman (1823-1900)

Klemment001An unusual, three-part wood engraving attributing John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of Abraham Lincoln to the influence of the proslavery secret society, the Knights of the Golden Circle. Lincoln was shot by Booth on April 14, 1865, while attending Ford’s Theatre in Washington. In the first panel (left) is a three-quarter length portrait of George W. L. Bickley, the “Head of the Knights of the Golden Circle.” Above him is the word “Theory.” The central panel–“Practice”–shows John Wilkes Booth in profile holding a dagger behind his back. The “Effect” is the death of President Lincoln, whose profile portrait at right is framed by swags of black drapery. Beneath the portrait are Lincoln’s initials and olive branches.

Almost every president since Washington has tried to equate disagreement with them with treason. Prior to the advent of the 20th century none was more strident in their efforts than Lincoln. Suspending habeas corpus and ignoring the courts on a daily basis there was even a warrant issued for the congressman who was the Democrats candidate for a cabinet post in 1864 [at the time the presidential ticket included not only the presidential and vice presidential nominees but also appointees for essential cabinet posts]. Prior to the Woodrow Wilson / Mitchell Palmer tag team assault on constitutional rights Lincoln’s was the most complete suppression of dissent in American history so it is little wonder that that his historians should have portrayed his detractors in the most venomous terms possible. Klement has performed a valuable service in helping to set the record straight and we have chosen to illustrate this entry starting with a caricature that shows the problem and a few that dared speak the truth about a man that Harper’s Magazine characterized as a filthy storyteller, despot, liar, thief, braggart, buffoon, usurper, monster, ignoramus Abe, old scoundrel, perjurer, swindler, tyrant, field butcher, land pirate – [but still the greatest president Illinois has produced].

Klemment002An impassioned attack on Abraham Lincoln and the human toll of the Union war effort. Columbia, wearing a liberty cap and a skirt made of an American flag, demands, “Mr. Lincoln, give me back my 500,000 sons!!!” At the right, Lincoln, unfazed, sits at a writing desk, his leg thrown over the chair back. A proclamation calling for “500 Thous. More Troops,” signed by him, lies at his feet. He replies, “Well the fact is–by the way that reminds me of a Story!!!” The artist refers to the false report published by the “New York World” that Lincoln joked on the battlefield of Antietam.

Dark lanterns : secret political societies, conspiracies, and treason trials in the Civil War Frank L. Klement Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, c 1984 Softcover. xiii, 263 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Bibliography: p. 245-253. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG

Klemment003Lincoln’s support of abolition is portrayed here as a liability in his race to the White House against Democratic candidate George B. McClellan. At top a smoothly run train “Union” heads straight for the White House. The engine is labeled “Democracy” and the first car, in which McClellan stands in the role of engineer, flies a flag “Constitution.” The other cars are labeled “Union” and are occupied by happy, cheering Democrats. McClellan taunts, “Wouldn’t you like to swap horses now? Lincoln?” (probably a reference to Lincoln’s replacement of him as commander of the Army of the Potomac). Several of his passengers comment on the wreck of the Republican train below: “H-ll, H ll, I’m used to Railroad accidents but that beats Vibbards all to smash.” New York governor Horatio Seymour: “I thought little Mac could take the train through better than I could.” “It’s no use talking Ben [Union general Benjamin F. Butler]! I told you I was on the right train . . . thunder there’s John McKeon [prominent Democrat and New York lawyer ] with us.” “Little Mac is the boy to smash up all the Misceganationists.” “Politics does make strange bed fellows . . . the d . . . l if there aint Fernandy!” “Fernandy” is Fernando Wood, prominent Peace Democrat and mayor of New York. “Good-bye Horace [Horace Greeley]! Nigger on the brain flummoxed you.” “Thus ends the Abolition Party!” “Be the powers the gintleman with his pantaloons in his bootleg is having a high time of it.” “Good-bye old Greenbacks!” to Salmon P. Chase, who leaves with a satchel at right. Chase, who resigned his post as secretary of the treasury on June 29, says, “Thank God, I got off that train in the nick of time.” In contrast, Lincoln’s train, below, is far behind after having crashed on rocks “Confiscation,” “Emancipation,” “$400,000,000,000 Public Debt,” “To Whom It May Concern,” and “Abolitionism.” Lincoln himself is hurled into the air, and says, “Dont mention it Mac, this reminds me of a . . .” This reference is to Lincoln’s rumored penchant for telling humorous stories at inappropriate moments. (See “The Commander-in-Chief Conciliating the Soldier’s Votes,” no. 1864-30.) “Tribune” publisher and abolitionist Horace Greeley, also in the air, says, “I told you Abe that ‘To whom it may concern’ would be the death of us.” (See “The Sportsman Upset by the Recoil of His Own Gun,” no. 1864-31.) A black man crushed in the wreck accuses Lincoln, “Wars de rest ob dis ole darkey? Dis wot yer call ‘mancipation’?” Another black man hurtles through the air, retorting, “Lor Amighty Massa Linkum, is dis wot yer call ‘Elewating de Nigger’?” Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, hanging out of the train, moans, “Oh! dear! If I could telegraph this to Dix I’d make it out a Victory.” Preacher and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher holds a black child to his breast and prays, “Oh! my brethering! Plymouth Church will try to save the Platform.” The notorious Union general Ben Butler exclaims, “H–ll! I’ve Preyed $2,000,000 already!” The four clean-shaven men in the train are identifiable as Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner, New York journalist and state political leader Thurlow Weed, Secretary of State William Seward, and John McKeon. Sumner: “Say Seward will praying save us?” Seward: “Oh! I’m a goner! Ask Thurlow, he’s my spiritual Adviser.” Weed: “Pray! yes, pray Brother, Butler will lead.” At left Maximilian, puppet emperor of Mexico, confers with John Bull and Napoleon III of France, saying, “Oh Main Got’vi I vas send over to dis land of Greasers to pe chawed up py de Yankees.” John Bull’s opinion is “. . . This will never do. The Monroe doctrine must be put down.” Napoleon III says, “. . . by Gar, if dat train gets to de White House, its all up with my Mexico.” During the Civil War, Napoleon III tried to establish a puppet state in Mexico under Emperor Maximilian. At bottom left are prices and ordering instructions for obtaining copies of the print.

During the agonizing days of the Civil War four secret political societies, often known as dark lantern societies, became household words throughout the North. Three of these groups – the Knights of the Golden Circle, the Order of American Knights, and the Sons of Liberty – supposedly were umbrellas for antiwar Democrats and were reportedly involved in treasonable activities. The Union League, on the other hand, was a patriotic political organization intent upon buttressing northern morale and giving support to the war program of the Lincoln administration.


Klemment004A bitterly anti-Lincoln cartoon, based on newspaper reports of the President’s callous disregard of the misery of Union troops at the front. The story that Lincoln had joked on the field at Antietam appeared in the “New York World.” Holding a plaid Scotch cap Lincoln stands on the battlefield at Antietam, which is littered with Union dead and wounded. He instructs his friend Marshal Lamon, who stands with his back toward the viewer and his hand over his face, to “sing us P̀icayune Butler,’ or something else that’s funny.”

The accusations and counter accusations that passed between these opposing forces helped spread fantastic rumors about their power and influence. Treason trials held in Cincinnati and Indianapolis based convictions on hearsay, while the leaders of the Order of American Knights and the Knights of the Golden Circle spent much of the war in prison without benefit of trial. Today reputable reference sources still matter-of-factly credit these societies with large memberships and evil motives.

Klemment005Another attack on the Lincoln administration by the artist of “The Commander-in-Chief Conciliating the Soldier’s Votes, no. 1864-31,” and “The Sportsman Upset by the Recoil of His Own Gun,” (no. 1864-32). Here Lincoln and his cabinet are shown in a disorderly backstage set, preparing for a production of Shakespeare’s “Othello.” Lincoln (center) in blackface plays the title role. He recites, “O, that the slave had forty thousand lives! I am not valiant neither:–But why should honour outlive honesty? Let it go all.” Behind Lincoln two men, one with his leg over a chair, comment on Lincoln’s reading. “Not quite appropriately costumed, is he?” comments the first. The second replies, “Costumed, my dear Sir? Never was such enthusiasm for art:–Blacked himself all over to play the part, Sir!” These may be Republicans Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens. Before them is a wastebasket of discarded documents, including the Constitution, Crittenden Compromise, Monroe Doctrine, “Webster’s Speeches,” “Decisions of Supreme Court,” and “Douglass.” At left five ballerinas stand beneath a playbill advertising “Treasury Department, A New Way to Pay Old Debts . . . Raising the Wind . . . Ballet Divertissement.” Near their feet is a pile of silver and plate, “Properties of the White House.” They listen to a fiddler who, with his back turned to the viewer, stands lecturing before them. At right Secretary of War Edwin Mcm.asters Stanton instructs a small troop of Union soldiers waiting in the wings to “. . . remember, you’re to go on in the procession in the first Act and afterwards in the Farce of the Election.” One soldier protests, “Now, see here, Boss that isn’t fair. We were engaged to do the leading business.” Nearby an obviously inebriated Secretary of State William Seward sits at a table with a bottle, muttering, “Sh–shomethin’s matt’r er my little bell: The darned thing won’t ring anyway c̀onfixit’.” Seward reportedly once boasted that he could have any individual arrested merely by ringing a bell. He was widely criticized for his arbitrary imprisonment of numerous civilians during the war. On the floor near Seward sits Lincoln’s running mate Andrew Johnson, a straw dummy, with a label around his ankle, “To be left till called for.” At far right Navy Secretary Gideon Welles slumbers, holding a paper marked “Naval Engagement, Sleeping Beauty, All’s Well That Ends Well.” In the background abolitionist editor Horace Greeley bumbles about moving scenery and complaining, “O bother! I can’t manage these cussed things.” Union general Benjamin F. Butler (directly behind Lincoln), dressed as Falstaff, recites, “We that take purses, go by the moon and seven stars; and not by Phoebus! I would to God, thou and I knew where a commodity of good names were to be bought!” He holds a sign “Benefit . . . Falstaff . . . Beauty and the Beast.” By this time Butler had achieved notoriety as a dissolute plunderer. To Butler’s right a man (who might be the stage manager) orders the crew, “Get ready to shift there ‘ere Flats for the Temple of Liberty.” The artist of this and nos. 1864-30 and -31 was an exceptionally able draftsman. Judging from the acidity of these satires, he may have been a Southerner, perhaps a Baltimorean.

In Dark Lanterns Klement refutes past historical theories and shows quite clearly that these societies were never much more than paper-based organizations with vague goals and little ability to carry them out. Recounting the actual histories of these organizations, he shows how they were senationalised, even fictionalized, in both Republican and Democratic newspaper and magazine exposés. He also probes the trials arising from the supposed conspiracy to establish a separate confederacy in the Midwest and the so-called Camp Douglas conspiracy, which was intended to release the Confederate prisoners housed there.

Klemment006Lincoln is portrayed as meek and ineffectual in his prosecution of the war. In a wooded scene Lincoln, here in the character of an Irish sportsman in knee-breeches, discharges his blunderbuss at a small bird “C.S.A.” (Confederate States of America). The bird, perched in a tree at left, is unhurt, but Lincoln falls backward vowing, “Begorra, if ye wor at this end o’ th’ gun, ye wouldn’t flap yer wings that way, ye vill’in!” At right Secretary of War Stanton, who has the body of a dog, barks, “Bow-wow.” Lincoln’s rifle is labeled “To Whom It May Concern.” These were the opening words of an announcement written by Lincoln in the summer of 1864. Journalist Horace Greeley had discovered that two emissaries of president of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis were in Canada, and urged Lincoln to make an offer of peace. Lincoln sent Greeley to Canada, where he found that the diplomats had neither credentials nor authority. Lincoln afterward announced that “Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery . . . will be received and considered by the Executive government of the United States.”

Despite the furor they generated, Klement concludes that these dark lantern societies were essentially engaged in nothing more than a war of words and that their alleged power was greatly exaggerated by political propaganda. Meticulously researched and lucidly argued, Dark Lanterns explores a controversial and puzzling aspect of the Civil war. It will be hard to dispute Klements’ finding that generations of historians have swallowed whole a tale that was largely the product of myth and legend.

Klemment007The artist portrays a President tormented by nightmares of defeat in the election of 1864. The print probably appeared late in the campaign. (The Library’s copy was deposited for copyright on September 22.) Lincoln was said to have believed in the prophetic importance of dreams. The President lies on a bed under a sheet embroidered with stars. In his dream Columbia or Liberty, wielding the severed head of a black man, stands at the door of the White House. She sends a frightened Lincoln away with a kick. Lincoln, wearing a Scotsman’s plaid cap and a cape and carrying a valise, flees to the left, saying, “This don’t remind me of any joke!!” The cap and cloak allude to an incident in 1861 before Lincoln’s first inauguration. On being informed that an attempt would be made to assassinate him on his way to Washington, Lincoln took a night train and disguised himself in a large overcoat and Kossuth hat. The press made the most of Lincoln’s timidity, and it was widely reported that Lincoln was seen wearing a Scotch plaid cap and a very long military cloak. Lincoln also carries a rolled piece of paper “To whom it may concern.” For this famous announcement, see “The Sportsman Upset by the Recoil of His Own Gun,” no. 1864-32. At right General McClellan, in uniform, ascends the steps to the White House, carrying a valise with his initials on it.