Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Civil War Photo Friday: A Union blockhouse

In the Civil War, both sides quickly realized the importance of fortification. Blockhouses like this one could be made from logs quickly and cheaply, and provided protection from bullets. They were especially useful in Missouri against bushwhackers, who didn't have artillery and therefore couldn't take such simple fortifications.

There was a famous incident in Missouri in 1864 when the bushwhacker gang of Bloody Bill Anderson, which included Frank and Jesse James, attacked a blockhouse in Fayette. They were bloodily repulsed. One of the protagonists in my Civil War novel has unwillingly joined up with Bloody Bill and he and his friends don't fare too well during this attack.

One of the fun things about researching a historical novel is pairing up fiction with real history. For example, my other protagonist is a fictional Union captain named Richard Addison who is charged with protecting Columbia, Missouri. I knew there was a blockhouse at the intersection of 8th St. and Broadway. It was put there because it was one of the town's main intersections, but I also add the detail that Captain Addison's drygoods store is on that corner and so the blockhouse was put there to keep the local secessionists from burning his store down.

I talk more about the use of blockhouses to ward off guerrilla attacks in my book American Civil War Guerrilla Tactics.

Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Copperheads: hated by both sides in the Civil War

I recently finished reading The Lyon Campaign in Missouri: Being A History of the First Iowa Infantry. This book is filled with interesting anecdotes such as how to shoot squirrels. It also gives insights into the politics of the war in Iowa. The author says about a third of his fellow Iowans were for the South. The main issue was slavery and what to do about it, and one of the main arguments against getting rid of slavery and making black people citizens was "Would you let a Negro marry your daughter?"

Sad to say, I've heard this same argument used as recently as the 1980s.

Even if a third of Iowans were for the rebels (an astonishing figure for such a northern state) most didn't go fight. They were the so-called Copperheads. The author states, "They were perhaps the most numerous and most contemptible lot of scoundrels that appear in history. They wanted the South to win, but would not fight for it. After the war was over the soldiers of the North and South, having gotten acquainted with each other, fraternized. Neither side ever afterwards fraternized much with the Northern 'copperhead' or 'doughface'"

Photo of Copperhead pamphlet courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What does it take to be a successful author on Amazon?

Over at the Kindle Direct Publishing Forum I've been involved in a discussion of what it takes to be a successful author on Amazon. Marti Talbott provided this concise list of good advice. While the list could go on for a lot longer, this is certainly a good start. Thanks to Marti for permission to repost this.

1. A summary/blurb/description that is exciting enough to sell the book
2. A well written book people will tell others about.
3. Fairly decent cover art.
4. Using your real name in your promotions, or at least the same name over and over again. Name recognition is very important. If you have a common name, try a nick name.
5. Networking works. Golden promotion is when someone else recommends your book to others.
6. Polish it, get an editor, even if you think you have done your best. A bad first review is very hard to overcome.
7. Read, read, read everything you can on publishing, both in Kindle and other versions.
8. Never miss a chance to promote

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So when's the book coming out?

I've been getting this question a lot lately. I was originally planning on having A Fine Likeness come out in late September but had to push it back because the layout people who are getting the ebook ready for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords have a long list of customers and won't get it to me until October 5. I was planning on bringing out immediately afterwards but now I'm buried in a deadline for my next Osprey Publishing book.

The Osprey book is on the James-Youger gang's ill-fated Northfield raid. I have to get the art references in by the end of this month and will not have time to do a proper marketing blitz for my novel. I also need time to get the layout done for the print version of A Fine Likeness.

So what I'm thinking is having it come out very late in October. This puts it close to Halloween (always good for a horror novel) and allows me to get my paid projects out of the way first. Stay tuned for more news once I have an exact release date, and thanks to all of you who asked!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Civil War Photo Friday: Confederate veterans

This week's image comes from Higginsville, Missouri, site of a retirement home for Confederate veterans opened in 1891. More than 1,600 former soldiers and their families lived there and the last one didn't die until 1950. John T. Graves was a veteran of General J.O. Shelby's Iron Brigade, the best cavalry raiders west of the Mississippi.

This photo was taken in the 1930s, I believe. It would have been amazing to talk to some of these old guys and hear their stories.

You can read more about Higginsville in my post Remembering the Confederate Dead.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Armies of the Adowa Campaign out now!

I've been pretty busy lately dealing with leaving Madrid and moving to Santander in northern Spain. I've also been hard at work preparing my Civil War novel for publication. One bit of good news I didn't get to tell y'all was that a couple of days ago Osprey Publishing came out with my latest book: Armies of the Adowa Campaign.

This work examines the ill-fated Italian attempt to colonize Ethiopia. The Ethiopians had the greatest victory over a colonial army by a native force until that time. This record wouldn't be surpassed until the Moroccans destroyed the Spanish army and Annual in 1921. The book comes with a complete description of the factors leading up to the war, details of the battles, and some excellent and precise illustrations of the uniforms of both sides by Raffaele Ruggeri. Included are almost fifty rare photographs from the Italian archives, and some of my own photos I took while exploring the battlefield.

This book has been selling well for some time now. Osprey readers like to preorder books and it's been in the top ten of books on Ethiopia for months. I've written before about why readers preorder books and I'm glad they do.

For more on this project, check out two posts I did for the Osprey blog. Part one is about researching in Ethiopia, in which I nearly fell off a mountain, and part two is about researching in Rome, where I ran off with a cannon!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The high tide of the Confederacy west of the Mississippi

General Sterling Price
On this day 150 ago, the Confederacy west of the Mississippi was at its greatest extent. The day before, Col. Mulligan’s 3500 Union troops defending Lexington had surrendered. It had been a tough siege and the Union troops had held out valiantly, but lack of water and a clever idea by the Confederates to use hemp bales as a moving wall to threaten Union defenses had finally forced Mulligan to capitulate.

For more detail of the battle, check out the excellent coverage over at the Civil War Daily Gazette or my own article about Frank James’ Civil War record. That’s right, the future outlaw was getting some training in gunplay!

Price was now in possession of a port town on the Missouri River. It was the first time since the Battle of Boonville on June 17 that the Confederates had a strong base on the river. The rebels also controlled much of southern Missouri and other parts of the state, not to mention Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and parts of the New Mexico, Arizona, and Indian territories.

It wasn’t to last. With strong Union forces to the east and west of him, and more pouring into the state, Price realized his position was untenable and moved back to southern Missouri. From there he would be on the defensive against relentless Union pressure. The victories of Wilson’s Creek and Lexington would not be repeated. There would be defeats at Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove. The Confederates would be pushed into Arkansas and in September of 1863 lose the state capital of Little Rock. Instead of victory on the field of battle, the Confederates had to rely on guerrilla warfare and cavalry raids.

During that time New Orleans and parts of Louisiana would be lost, and a Confederate campaign to blaze a trail to California would end in disaster. The Indian Territory would become a bloodbath neither side could control. Even Texas would see Union footholds on its shores.

In the heady days after their success at Lexington, the rebels probably never realized that it was the beginning of the end.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Ten Worst Horror Movies Ever

Today on Civil War Horror I'm participating in the Worst Movies Ever Blogfest. Technically we're all supposed to list our picks for the ten worst movies, but I'm going to skip Ishtar and Kid Ninja and go straight to a genre near and dear to my heart--B horror films. So without further ado, here are my picks for the worst schlock you really must see.

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter. While all Jesse James films mangle the history of the world's most famous outlaw, no film kicks the legend so squarely in the crotch as this piece of trash. It is exactly what the title says, except the female lead is actually Frankenstein's granddaughter, continuing the mad doctor's nefarious experiments. This little slip pales in comparison to the wooden acting, boring shootouts Jesse never participates in, and stereotypical portrayals of Mexicans, Indians, and foreigners in general. It can't seem to decide whether to be a bad horror film or a bad Western, so it takes the worst of both genres and runs with it.

The Beast of Yucca Flats. This one stars Tor Johnson, professional wrestler-turned-actor immortalized in Ed Wood's films. It isn't an Ed Wood picture, and that's too bad. Tor plays an irradiated scientist wandering around the desert to bizarre narration obviously written by someone smoking something potent. We're treated to lines such as "Boys from the city. Not yet caught by the whirlwind of Progress. Feed soda pop to the thirsty pigs" and "Touch a button. Things happen. A scientist becomes a beast." Actually things don't happen. People just stroll through the desert or drive along roads in endless bridging sequences that don't actually connect to any real scenes. The film was shot without sound (to save money?) hence the narration. There's some dialog, but because the director didn't trust himself to sync the sound with the actors, you only see the person listening, not the person talking.

Reptilicus. Denmark is the last place you should set a horror film. It hasn't been exciting since the Viking age. Prim, proper, socialist, and wealthy, nothing happens there and they like it that way. That is, until an unconvincing rubber monster starts messing about in Copenhagen and even has the gall to attack Tivoli, the cheesy amusement park. Copenhagen is burning! Women in bikinis and beehive hairdos are screaming! The Danish army, which got its butt kicked by the Nazis in a single morning, is helpless! What, oh what, can we possibly do??!!

Teenage Zombies. This one doesn't even make the "so bad it's good" category. It's boring. Fun-loving teenagers stumble upon a plot by Russian agents to create a gas that turns people into shambling slaves. So they aren't really zombies in the traditional sense, and none of the teenagers become zombies. The "zombies" are slow-moving actors with their eyes rolled up under their eyelids. Oh, but there's a guy in a gorilla suit. That was pretty cool. Not.

Manos: The Hands of Fate. In this flick we see the typical middle-class family get lost and fall into the evil clutches of The Master and his flunky, who worship the evil god Manos. I saw this one with the psychological crutch of Joel and the robots to help me through. Because MST3K cuts off the bottom of the movie, I didn't know the flunky had cloven hooves and was supposed to be a satyr. I just thought he walked funny. The Internet Movie Database says, "The majority of the cast (and crew) never appeared in another movie." Good.

Scarecrow Slayer. I bought this used here in Spain thinking it was a Spanish film. The Spaniards made some pretty kick-ass Templar zombie films back in the day. Unfortunately this was from the land of Kmart. A killer scarecrow preys on college freshmen. I kid you not. You'd think that in a film made in 2004 about college freshmen that one of the girls would take her shirt off, but no. Bare breasts are the standard special effect of B-movies--inexpensive, safe, and always popular. Instead the director relies on cheap special effects that would barely pass muster in an 80s music video. I want those 87 minutes of my life back.

Basket Case 2. This doesn't really count since it's a horror comedy and isn't supposed to be taken seriously. Still, it's pretty painful. The first one was kinda cool, with a young teenager and his separated twin hiding out in New York. The twin is a football-sized thing with fangs, sharp claws, and a bad attitude. Like all sequels, Basket Case 2 didn't have the Sturm und Drang of the original. We do get to see the evil football find a football girlfriend and have graphic sex. That got this flick onto the list. Hey, at least I was able to write a Gadling post about how it symbolized the English riots.

Chucky. I'm ashamed to say I saw this in the theater. Toy doll gets possessed with a killer's spirit and goes on a rampage. Nuff said. At least I didn't see the sequel, Bride of Chucky. The sex scene from Basket Case 2 was enough monster sex for one lifetime, thank you very much.

Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues. I never saw the original so this may be a case of a great movie having a horrible sequel, sort of like The Blair Witch Project 1 & 2. Based on the "real-life" Fouke monster (ahem) of Arkansas, this incredibly slow-paced film stars the director as a University of Arkansas professor hunting the beast while two coed students act dumb and a male student spends all the time with his shirt off showing his scrawny, hairless chest. Not much else happens except that at the end the director sings a love song about the monster. There were actually five Boggy Creek films made, so this is one of the more successful bad movies out there.

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. I saved the best for last. I first saw this film when I was seven years old and it totally freaked me out. There was a scene where a drunk guy goes to a gypsy woman to have his fortune told and a monster leaps out from behind a curtain and kicks his ass. As he's lying on the floor we get a shot from his point of view of the fortuneteller pouring acid on his face. That scene always stayed with me even after I forgot the rest of the movie. A few years ago I was watching it for what I thought was the first time, saw that scene, and nearly fell out of my chair. Well, you can't go home again. This movie has murder victims reappearing alive in later scenes, a gypsy whose wart moves around her face every scene, and off-key musical numbers, all shot in "Bloody-Vision" and "Hallucinogenic Hypnovision". It's notable for having László Kovács doing the camera work. After this he went on to make Easy Rider, my favorite good film, and become a Hollywood icon.

"What?" you say "No Plan 9 from Outer Space?" No. While Ed Wood's masterpiece is a truly bad film, devoted fans of the genre know that Wood doesn't even come close to being the worst director of all time. Dig deeper, my friends, and you will find the landfill was built on top of an outhouse.

Friday, September 16, 2011

How to shoot squirrels

When reading about the Civil War, especially in the Trans-Mississippi Theater, I come across a lot of references to men marching into battle with less-than-ideal weaponry. Typically shotguns and squirrel guns are mentioned. Shotguns, while deadly at close range, weren't much good at a hundred yards against someone with a musket.

But what are squirrel guns, sometimes referred to as squirrel rifles? I presumed that they were small-caliber guns used for hunting squirrel, a common source of meat for poor people then and still in some parts of the United States today.

While reading The Lyon Campaign in Missouri : Being a History of the First Iowa Infantry, I came across an interesting anecdote. The author relates that the common way to shoot squirrels in Iowa before the war was by "barking" them. The hunter fired at the branch just below the squirrel's throat and the shock apparently killed it. This would preserve the meat. I suppose even if the squirrel didn't die it would be stunned and fall out of the tree, and could then be dispatched on the ground by smacking it against the trunk. At least that's how I'd do it.

I asked the knowledgeable folks over at the Missouri in the Civil War Message Boards for more info. One confirmed the barking technique was shown to him by his grandfather, while another said that people he knew simply aimed for the head. I guess that would save the meat just as well. You're not exactly going to put squirrel head into soup, are you?

Three forum members actually own squirrel guns carried by their ancestors during the Civil War! They're muzzle-loading .35 cal weapons. Interestingly, they were fairly large, weighing 6 pounds and being 36 3/4 inches long. If you're interested in the Civil War in Missouri, check out this forum. there are a lot of interesting researchers over there.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Civil War Photo Friday: The Famous Cannonball of Lexington, Missouri

On this date 150 years ago, the Confederate army under General Sterling Price was preparing to attack Lexington, a prosperous town on the Missouri River. They'd recently defeated the Union army at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, captured Springfield, and had marched all the way to central Missouri.

The rebels appeared unstoppable. With 12,000 men and more rallying to The Cause, there was no force within striking distance that was of comparable size. Defending Lexington were only 3,500 Union troops under Col. James A. Mulligan. Despite the long odds, Mulligan dug in on a hill overlooking town and waited for reinforcements.

Price's advance guard arrived on September 11. They didn't attack immediately, instead waiting for the rest of the army to come up. This allowed Mulligan a chance to complete his fortifications, which included earthworks and a stone building on top of the hill that was a Masonic College. Skirmishing started on September 13 but the main assault didn't start until September 18, once all of Price's supplies and men had arrived. I'll write about that in a later post.

It was a tough fight with lots of gunplay and a days-long artillery duel. One Union shot passed over the Confederate lines and landed in town, right into a column of the Lafayette County courthouse. Price had established his headquarters across the street, so the cannonball was probably aimed at him. It's still there today. I took a shot of it when I was on my Jesse James road trip.

How does Jesse James fit into this? His big brother, future outlaw Frank James fought in this battle on the Confederate side!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Adoption of Muzzle- vs. Breech-Loading Rifles During the Civil War

Today we have a guest post by author Dr. William G. Browning. He recently published a Kindle novel titled Dakota Quest, about two teenagers’ experience with the Deadwood gold rush that began in 1875-76. Dr. Browning was invited to contribute the article below because of his interest in the Civil War. You can learn more about him and his work at his website.

The impetus for this article was my curiosity about why neither side during the Civil War chose to place heavier emphasis on breech-loading rifles instead of muzzle loaders.

Being an amateur rather than professional historian, I relied mainly on secondary online resources for this article. Due to the limited length of this piece, links to several online references are included for those who would like to explore the topic further. Below are a few of my conclusions. I focus on the Union side because their industrial advantage made the mass production of breech loaders more practical.

The use of muzzle loaders certainly was not due to a lack of breech-loader designs, both single-shot and repeater. But breech-loading rifles were the exception rather than the rule.

The Hare and the Tortoise: Not Always to the Swift
On the face of it, one might assume breech-loading rifles would be preferred over muzzle loaders because of their rapid fire. Surely, a soldier who could fire 15 or so shots per minute instead of two or three would have an advantage.

However, some practical considerations work against this assumption. Emory Hackman, in his excellent discussion of the popular Spencer repeating rifle, mentions three drawbacks to rapid-fire weapons in the Civil War. First, the Army felt they did not have the wagons needed to carry the vast quantities of ammunition needed to feed those rifles. Secondly, once in battle the ammunition was quickly used up, putting the soldiers using those weapons out of action. A third issue had to do with the black powder used at that time. According to Hackman, “In anything less then a strong wind, a line of soldiers shooting Spencers very quickly couldn't see what they were shooting at.” It makes sense, then, that rifles like the Spencer were used largely by the cavalry, where the drawbacks mentioned were not a factor.

Supply-Side Economics

I am indebted to Sean for learning another reason favoring the use of muzzle-loading smoothbore muskets by the Union early in the war. He pointed out, “One factor in muzzle-loading smoothbore firearms being adopted was that there were a lot sitting in armories in 1861. Some were flintlocks and had to be adapted to take percussion caps.” He mentioned that Eugene Fitch Ware of the First Iowa described how his regiment was issued smoothbore flintlock-to-percussion conversions.

Ironically, in his excellent masters thesis titled US Army Rifle and Carbine Adoption between 1865 and 1900 (Google the title for the pdf), John C. Davis states that a similar economic reason led to adopting the single-shot Springfield after the war: “The large number of serviceable Springfield rifled muskets on hand and a period of shrinking budgets in the immediate post-Civil war era, as well as the great expense of the war itself, played roles in the decision to adopt the breech-loading Springfield variants.”

The Mighty Minie Ball
It can be argued that where the Civil War is concerned, the minie ball was a much more important innovation than breech-loading rifles. Although breech-loaders were a technological marvel of the period, the little minie ball had a much greater impact on the fighting. It was deadly at half a mile, if one could hit at that range, and solved the problem of slow reloading due to fouling.

In conclusion, it might be tempting to assume that muzzle loaders were preferred over breech loaders because of resistance to change or bureaucratic incompetence, but such an assumption is most likely an oversimplification of the facts.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Civil War Photo Friday: Foraging for supplies

In my Civil War horror novel, A Fine Likeness, the bushwhacker band at the center of the action stops off at a safehouse of rebel sympathizers. One of the residents is a disabled Confederate veteran who tells them his memories of the Battle of Wilson's Creek. Over dinner, one of the veteran's sisters remarks that they might as well have seconds, because Union troops had already taken most of their food, and will probably come back to take the rest.

Foraging for food was a common practice in both armies. Enduring long marches on bad or sometimes no rations, the troops couldn't resist grabbing a chicken or some apples. Multiply these individual thefts across several regiments, and the passage of an army could be worse than a visit from locusts.

This period engraving shows the Union army hard at work putting food on the table. The wagon is loaded with hay and barrels (of molasses? whiskey?) as the horseman on the left is having some trouble with a chicken. While this image is done in a humorous style, scenes like this wouldn't have been funny to farmers in the war zone.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Civil War gets ugly in Missouri

The longstanding hatreds caused by Bleeding Kansas meant that the Civil War in Missouri turned nasty faster than in other areas. On September 3, rebel bushwhackers undercut the Platte River railroad bridge of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad. This wrecked a civilian train, causing more than a hundred casualties, including 17-20 deaths (reports vary). The bushwhackers claimed it was a military target because some soldiers were aboard.

Down in Jasper County in southwest Missouri, there had been a lull in fighting after the Battle of Carthage on 5 July 1861. There wasn't another fight recorded until August 23, when a group of secessionists heading south to enlist and a group of Unionists heading to Fort Scott to enlist bumped into each other near Medoc. A small skirmish ensued. Both sides were ready to fight even though neither had been mustered into an army.

This lull in battles and skirmishes didn't stop the killing. With the rebels emboldened by their victory at Carthage, Unionists started getting anonymous warnings to leave the area or face the consequences. Some got robbed or assaulted. Soon an exodus started to safer areas such as Kansas. The farms left behind were often taken over by secessionists. By early September at least three civilians had been murdered. One had his house plundered and then burned to the ground.

These stories were being repeated in counties all over Missouri. As Union and Confederate armies seesawed across the state, and the rule of law crumbled, life would only get harder for civilians trapped in the middle.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Coping with shortages during the Civil War

In my Civil War novel, A Fine Likeness, both protagonists struggle with problems of military supply. Jimmy Rawlins spends much of the early part of the novel worrying about how he's going to get percussion caps for his bushwhacker band. Being a bunch of teenagers armed to the teeth, they go through a lot! Captain Richard Addison is similarly preoccupied with getting better weapons for his Union militia.

This was a common problem in the real war. An anecdote from the first year of the Civil War in Missouri shows how one Confederate artillery battery dealt with the problem. Lieutenant Barstow, a Confederate artillery officer in Henry Guibor's battery, had helped defeat General Sigel at the Battle of Carthage on 5 July 1861. They'd used up most of their munitions in the fight and were faced with a dire shortage. Barstow relates,

"One of Sigel's captured wagons furnished a few loose round shot. With these for a beginning, Guibor established an 'arsenal of construction.' A turning lathe in Carthage supplied sabots; the owner of a tin shop contributed straps and canisters; iron rods which a blacksmith gave and cut into small pieces made good slugs for the canisters; and a bolt of flannel, with needles and thread, freely donated by a dry goods man, provided us with material for cartridge bags.

A bayonet provided a good candlestick and at night the men went to work making cartridges, strapping shots to the sabots, and filling the bags from a barrel of powder placed some distance from the candle. My first cartridge resembled a turnip, rather than the trim cylinders from the Confederate arsenals, and would not take a gun on any terms. But we soon learned the trick, and at the close range at which our next battle was fought, our homemade ammunition proved as effective as the best."

Source: Jasper County, Missouri, in the Civil War by Ward Schrantz. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

For more on Civil War Artillery, check this link in this sentence.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Enjoying my new Kindle

Last month I celebrated my 42nd birthday (shudder) and my wife kindly bought me my first Kindle. It makes sense that since I'm publishing my Civil War novel through Kindle Direct Publishing that I should at least have one!

I was surprised at how quickly I got used to reading on it. It's very user friendly and while it hasn't and probably never will replace my reading on paper, I've used it every day since I got it. It's also solving the problem of my bookshelves, which reached critical mass a long time ago. A friend who heard about my present gave me a CD of downloaded Project Gutenberg books, about 140 of them! It's nice having all those old classics in the palm of my hand.

Over at the Missouri in the Civil War Message Board someone mentioned there were some good nineteenth century Civil War books scanned and Kindle-ready over at Archive.org. While I frequently go to that site for film rarities, I'd never checked out their text collection and was happy to discover lots of Missouri Civil War books, including a couple that have been out of print for more than a century that I've always wanted. It's certainly turning out to be a useful gift!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Civil War Photo Friday: Union propaganda according to Confederate recruitment

Here's a fun bit of Union propaganda from early in the war. I've allowed the image to bleed a bit into the margins so you can see all the nice detail.

This is a Confederate recruitment station as the Union wanted you to see it. Some poor hick is being led in at the point of three bayonets while another new recruit is passed on on the floor, getting peed on by a puppy. The whiskey barrel prominently displayed in the center shows the major recruitment tool besides the bayonet.

There's even a connection to Missouri. Note the poster about the Battle of Boonville proclaiming a rebel victory and the death of General Lyon. This neatly dates the image sometime after 17 June 1861, when General Lyon led his Union troops to an easy victory at Boonville, and before August 10 of the same year, when Lyon really was killed in battle at Wilson's Creek. I suppose no Union propagandist would have made the joke after Lyon died in the field!

While there was a flood of volunteers for both sides at the beginning of the Civil War, strongarm tactics like this eventually started to be used. the Confederacy passed a draft law in April 1862 and the Union in July 1862. Both governments provided loopholes for wealthy men to get out of their responsibilities, creating a common resentment that it was a "rich man's war and a poor man's fight".