The Civil War Posters presented here form part of the Poster File in
the Department of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections. The
entire series consists of 466 recruiting posters, deserter lists, muster
rolls, auction announcements, meeting advertisements and other related
materials. The 304 posters chosen for imaging are primarily recruiting
posters, but they also include auction and meeting advertisements. They
date from the earliest days of the war through March 1865.
The posters were published in Maine, Massachusetts, New
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Most come from New York,
with New Jersey and Pennsylvania also well represented. One military unit
with a large number of posters was the 104th Pennsylvania Infantry
Regiment, (Ringgold Regiment), whose commanding officer, W.H.H. Davis, was
also the printer of the posters. New York units that are well represented
include the 132nd and 139th New York Infantry Regiments.
The recruiting posters enticed men with patriotic appeals, enlistment
bonuses, and promises of well supplied units with experienced officers.
Patriotic imagery contributed to the appeal, and included eagles with wings spread, a cavalry officer with
raised sword, a horrific battle scene contrasted with a peaceful scene in
a northern village, and images of George Washington and other patriotic
figures. Some posters were designed to appeal to certain segments of the
population, and include posters in German, or with harps and shamrocks to
appeal to an Irish constituency.
|Rally 'round the green flag.
The thirty-one items that are not strictly recruiting posters include
announcements of meetings, an auction, and drives for blankets, or for
other charitable purposes. Many of the meetings were rallies at the beginning of the war, where
weighty issues such as "Treason and rebellion or the constitution the
union and the laws!
Which will you choose?" were "discussed."
One poster announces an excursion to the Sanitary Fair in Philadelphia,
another a concert to raise money for the Soldier's Aid Society.
The posters range in size from 6 x 12 inches to 56 x 42 inches. They
were printed in letterpress, many with wood-engraved illustrations. Most
were presented in black and white, but some were printed in color,
or were hand-colored after printing. The posters came from a variety of
sources. The New-York Historical Society collected some of the posters as
they were published during the Civil War. Others were accessioned
around the turn of the twentieth century or later.
|Treason and rebellion. . .