A powerful 1863 broadside marshaling recent events, statistics and a striking persuasive map to demonstrate recent progress of the Union armies in the field and forcefully rebut Copperhead attacks on the Union war effort.
This broadside was probably issued at a high point for the Union in the late Summer of 1863, following among other things the admission of West Virginia as a state and major victories at Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Port Hudson. These successes came at an opportune time, as Copperheads such as New York’s Democrat Governor Horatio Seymour were attacking the Union War effort, while New York City was wracked by the infamous Draft Riots.
The visual focus of the broadside is a large, wood-engraved outline map of the United States, extending not quite to the Pacific but with Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California partially visible. The “Free States and Delaware” are shown in white; shading indicates “the States and Territories claimed by Jeff. Davis, and over which for a considerable period his Rebel arms were triumphant, but which have been wrested from him by our heroic soldiers;” and the area remaining under Confederate control is black. Lest the map and text are insufficiently clear, a table contrasts “The Claim of the Confederacy, 1861” with “The Situation—August, 1863,” with statistics demonstrating the Confederacy’s sharp loss of territory and population in the intervening period.
This is a classic “persuasive map,” using simple techniques of graphic design to make a point, in this case regarding the success of the Union war effort. In a Mapping the Nation blog entry addressing this broadside in the context of similar maps produced by the U.S. Coast Survey, Susan Schulten observes:
“There were no shortage of war maps for the northern public, but these were unique, recording conflict as a story of territorial control rather than discrete battles. Indeed they were a kind of first draft of history, an attempt to create a story where the outcome was not as yet unknown. Yet in generalization, they imply a steady state of progress and control that was at odds with the chaos on the ground.
“Again, one thing that strikes me about the use of such imagery is the suggestion of ongoing territorial progress. Such a depiction allows little room to acknowledge the notorious reversals of territorial control in the east. But to boost the flagging spirits in the Union, the image was compelling indeed, supported by extensive statistics of square miles and population under Union control.”
In its use of persuasive techniques, the broadside resembles others published by the Republican Party during the Civil War, particularly this one, issued during the Presidential campaign of 1864. Comparison of the two is instructive, as it suggests that during the intervening year the Union had actually lost ground, particularly in the border states… thus giving the lie to the impression of inevitable Union victory conveyed by the 1863 broadside offered here.
The broadside is extremely rare: I find institutional holdings at the Boston Athenaeum and British Library only, plus an example sold by a colleague many years ago, one sold by Bonhams for $2000 in 2014, and another sold by Cowan’s Auctions for $3600 in late 2017.
As of April 2018, OCLC #686682233 and 954146671 (both apparently listing the same copy at the Boston Athenaeum) and 750991320 (British Library). For background see Susan Schulten, “Mapping the progress of the Union Army” at her Mapping the Nation web site.
Minor foxing and soiling, else excellent.