“Is this indeed humanity—these butchers’ shambles?”

--Walt Whitman, Specimen days, 1882


“The True Defenders of the Constitution,” from Harper’s Weekly. New York: Harper & Brothers, 11 November 1865.
Gift of Virginia W. Dudley (AP2 .H32)

This postwar illustration commemorates the contributions of white and black Union soldiers who died while fighting alongside one another. By war’s end many white Americans expressed appreciation for the sacrifices and service of African-American soldiers.

Founded in 1857 and renowned for its coverage during the war, illustrations, and political cartoons, Harper’s Weekly, with a circulation of 120,000, was the North’s leading wartime illustrated journal.

Robert Larimer, Diary, 1865.
Gift of Mrs. Richard Fell (MSS 38-129)

Larimer, a Union sergeant from Perry County, Ohio, describes the siege of Richmond, the hanging of deserters, reviews of troops by President Lincoln, and the capture of Fort Gregg, Va. On the page shown here, Larimer casually mentions, “Lee finding himself & army surrounded surrenders all to Gen. Grant at 4 P.M.” He concludes the day’s entry by noting, “We have some rain today.”

Alexander Gardner, Gardner's photographic sketch book of the war. Washington, D.C.: Philp & Solomons, [1865-1866]
Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History (A 1865 .G373)

A Scottish-born photographer who began his career in Mathew Brady’s studio, Gardner traveled with the Union Army and photographed scenes at Antietam, Gettysburg, and the sieges of Petersburg and Richmond. His Sketch book, published at the end of the war, consists of two volumes, each containing 50 mounted photographs, including some of the war’s most iconic images.

To the people of the South. [Winchester, Va., 1865?]
Elizabeth Cocke Coles Fund (Broadside 1865 .T6)

In 1865 concerned Winchester citizens issued this broadside requesting financial support from all Southern states to create a cemetery for the re-interment of soldiers who had died in the Winchester vicinity. Soldiers killed in action had been buried where they fell. Without immediate action, their graves would be obliterated by the coming winter and the resumption of farming in the spring. As a result of this appeal Winchester’s Stonewall Confederate Cemetery was dedicated in 1866; it contains the graves of 2,575 Confederate soldiers. Union soldiers were buried just across the street in Winchester National Cemetery, established the same year.

Margaret Junkin Preston, Beechenbrook: a rhyme of the war. Baltimore: John B. Piet, [1866]
(PS2662 .B4 1866a)

Preston, the wife of a Virginia Military Institute professor, published a novel in verse, Beechenbrook, in Richmond in 1865. The tale of a family’s wartime experiences culminates in the death of the husband and father. Shown here is the 1866 Baltimore reprint, which begins, “To every Southern woman who has been widowed by the war, I dedicate this rhyme, published during the progress of the struggle, and now re-produced as a faint memorial of sufferings, of which there can be no forgetfulness.”