Civil War Treasures
Before, During and After
the Civil War.

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This selection of images is intended to serve as a chronological overview of the war as depicted in items from the Civil War collections at the New-York Historical Society. The variety of materials in the collections represented here provides a complex look at the war, from both the Union and Confederate points of view, by artists and observers of many types.

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Beauregard and McClellan keep an eye on each other in "24 Weeks on the Potomac," published in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Feb 1, 1862

After the First Battle of Bull Run, which ended with disastrous results for the Union when their forces were pushed back to Washington, General McDowell was replaced by General McClellan. What followed were many months of virtual stalemate along the Potomac.

Soldiers from both North and South had themselves photographed, sometimes individually or often with the regiment with which they served, as is the case with these Confederate cavalrymen who were led by John S. Mosby.

Poignant tales emerged, of brother fighting brother, or cousins on opposing sides. For the officers who had been educated at West Point it was often the case that they faced former classmates.

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Francis H. Schell, "The Pursuit of the Rebels in Maryland, 1862." Inscriptions on the drawing read in part, "Rebel cavalry under Stuart burning the bridge over the Catoctin creek under pretense of checking the pursuit, but in reality to destroy the [? ] near barn & property of Adam Coogle a Union Maryland farmer." The drawing was published in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, October 4, 1862

In April 1861, Lincoln ordered a blockade of southern ports to prevent equipment and supplies from overseas from reaching the Confederate armies, and to prevent the export of the south's agricultural products. The U.S.S. "Wabash" was the flagship of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, her service climaxing in the assaults on Fort Fisher in North Carolina in late 1864 and early 1865.

In March of 1863, a conscription act was passed in the North, due to difficulties in attracting recruits. The recruiting posters of the time emphasize the advantages of volunteering over being drafted.

When it finally came, the reaction to the draft was violent and deadly in New York. Workers, many of them poor Irish immigrants, attacked recruiting stations, the police, and African American neighborhoods, and looted homes of the more well-to-do. Between July 13 and 16, 105 people were killed, and extensive destruction took place, much of it targeted against African Americans.

Because of the riots, Union troops had to be dispatched to New York. Many of them had served at Gettysburg, where an intense battle had just concluded. In all, over 50,000 men from both sides had been killed, wounded, or captured.

Even in the middle of war, social ties were maintained, and opportunities were taken for social interaction. For instance, the Masons established lodges for their members in the field.

In September 1, 1864, General Hood surrendered Atlanta to General Sherman, boosting the morale of the North. Sherman spent time in the city resting with his troops. Before the Federal troops left the city they destroyed much of the infrastructure.

From Atlanta, Sherman launched the famous March to the Sea, a particularly destructive campaign. As the troops cut a swath toward Savannah the Union forces destroyed much more than strategic targets such as bridges and railroads.

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"Genl. Sherman's Troops killing bloodhounds." An inscription on the back of the drawing reads: "Gen. Sherman's men invariably killed all the bloodhounds and dogs of most every description by the order of the commanding general."

Thousands of men on both sides of the conflict were incarcerated in dozens of prisons during the war. Conditions at the prisons were generally difficult, but prisoners found ways to entertain themselves. At the North's most notorious prison, Fort Delaware, the prisoners produced a newspaper, Prison Times.

The end of the bloody war came in a prosaic setting, McLean's farm house in Appomattox, Virginia, April 9, 1865.

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"Moseby [John Singleton Mosby] and his gang of guerillas," photographed by John W. Davies, of the Lee Photographic Gallery
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"Lt. Washington, a Confederate prisoner, and Capt. Custer, U.S.A.," photographed by James F. Gibson, 1862.
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"Lacy House, Falmouth, Va. View from the south, March, 1863," by Timothy O'Sullivan, from the series Photographic incidents of the war.
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On the U.S.S. Wabash
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Baker & Godwin, NY, printers, ca. 1863
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"Homes of the Rioters," from a sketchbook, artist known only as J.H.W.
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Masonic Lodge, Folly Island, 1863.
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"Gen. Sherman's men tearing up the railroad before leaving Atlanta, Ga.," published by Brady & Co.
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"Unfinished Confederate grave near the center of battle-field of Gettysburg," from the series Photographic incidents of the war, photographed by Timothy O'Sullivan.
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Logo, from page 1 of the four page Prison Times.
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House where Gen Lee signed Capitulation papers, photographed by Kilburn Brothers, ca. 1865

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