Sunday, December 23, 2012

Civil War Sunday - Civil War Santa

Year end has come again.  It almost seemed like yesterday.....

This year things are subdued in the United States, as we still digest the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting.  It is well that we reflect on the fact that our country was at war with itself 150 years ago today.  As sad as we may feel right now, remember how much worse it was for those living then.

(Binghamton, New York Civil War monument, Courthouse Lawn, downtown Binghamton, courtesy of RamblinwithAM.)

I have blogged a couple of times about the Federal ironclad USS Monitor, a ship that has a link to my Johnson City, New York area ..  I had hoped to visit the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, VA that houses its surviving portions, but my schedule this year didn't allow me to.

I still hope to visit - it is supposed to be a well done exhibit and well worth the trip from upstate New York.

But now, it is time to say goodbye to the USS Monitor.

On December 30-31, 1862, the USS Monitor sank in a storm.  Although rescue operations were in progress, the ship sank before all onboard could be rescued, and 16 crew members perished.

Next Sunday, December 30, 2012, they will be remembered in a special ceremony at the Mariners' Museum.  There will be other special events, including a special tour reserved for descendents of the crew, its shipbuilders, and others with a link to this ship.

I also wanted to wish my readers who celebrate Christmas a most wonderful Christmas - and leave you with this thought taken from an article about the Civil War Christmastime of 1862 and a budding cartoonist:

"Tragedy, grief, sadness, deprivation, heartache know no boundaries in war.  Families on both sides of the conflict, North and South, had felt the long, grim arm of war. At Christmas, when times are difficult and families are separated, the despair is even more difficult to bear...."

We normally don't think of jolly Santa Claus, American style, when we think of the Civil War, but we should.  Again, from the article, speaking of the later to be internationally acclaimed Thomas Nast:

“Santa Claus in Camp” and “Christmas Eve, 1862” were drawn for a war-torn country in 1862.  Now, 150 years later, they remain two of the most riveting images of the Civil War. Not only do his illustrations impart an insight into the politics of the war, they also offer a rare window into the deep and intense emotions of the people who lived through these difficult years, in both North and South."

Thomas Nast gave us our earliest images of the now-modern jolly, obese Santa Claus.  Today Santa is known by children of all ages around the world as Nast envisioned him, starting in the midst of our Civil War.

You can view these images online. 

Much of Nast's Civil War work was pro-Union, but these two images are side-neutral, and withstand the tests of time.  They speak to us today as much as they spoke to the Americans of 1862.  Dwell upon them, especially on the eve of Christmas, 2012, and know what war truly did to our country 150 years ago both in ranks of the fighters and on the home front.

Happy Holidays to all of my readers, and a Happy New Year.

1 comment:

  1. what a wonderful image of Santa complete with the stars on his jacket.
    Hope YOUR Christmas was wonderful!


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