The 304 Civil War posters presented in this collection 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
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
|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.
|Treason and rebellion. . .
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