Confederate War etchings
Language of Materials
Caricatures, sympathetic to the Confederate States of America, drawn during the Civil War. These materials have been digitized and are available online via New-York Historical Society's Digital Collections.
Dr. Adalbert John Volck (1828-1912) was German-born and immigrated to the United States in 1848. He settled permanently in Baltimore in 1851, and worked as a chemistry instructor while studying to be a dentist. He practiced dentistry for many years in Baltimore. During the Civil War, he was sympathetic to the South, as were many other Baltimoreans. In an effort to combat the success of the Northern caricaturist, Thomas Nast (ironically also German-born), Volck issued many caricatures, sketches, and cartoons favorable to the South. The Confederate War Etchings are the most important and best known of these.
The caricatures were numbered by the artist, and are housed in a portfolio by this numbering system.
Scope and Contents
This portfolio of twenty-nine caricatures was etched by Volck and was originally published under the name "V. Blada." These materials have been digitized and are available online via New-York Historical Society's Digital Collections.
Made during the Civil War, the etchings show sympathy for the Confederate cause, and distaste for warfare in general. It sardonically illustrates events that allegedly took place in the North and South from Philadelphia and Baltimore to Charleston and Vicksburg between 1861 and 1863. Lincoln's ideals and actions are caricatured, as are such topics as Union army conscription methods, Northern treatment of African Americans, and the behavior of the Union and Confederate armies. Northerners of conflicted views are shown in several scenes smuggling medicine to the South, or joining the Confederate army. Several scenes of events in Baltimore highlight the city residents' early ambivalence toward the war cause and effort.
The original publication contained thirty prints, but one plate, "Meeting of the Southern Emissaries and Lincoln," has been lost. The portfolio was produced in an edition of 200 copies for subscribers of Dr. Adalbert John Volck during the early part of the Civil War. An edition of 45 plates, including the original 30 and 15 additional by the same artist, was also pub. (with imprint, London, 1863) under title: Sketches from the Civil War in North American, 1861, '62, '63. By V. Blada [pseud.]
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This collection should be cited as: Confederate War Etchings, Caricature and Cartoon File, PR 10-1, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections; The New-York Historical Society.