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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".

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