Dark Artillery

Happy Friday! Today’s Civil War cartoon is a Frank Leslie drawing entitled “Dark Artillery” or “How to make the contrabands useful.”

Published in 1861, the cartoon is a commentary on the influx of escaped slaves flocking to the Union lines and the Northern government’s perplexity over how to employ them. In 1861, with the issuing of Fort Monroe Doctrine, the Union began classifying all escaped slaves who had made their way to Union lines as “contrabands.” In this instance, Frank Leslie is highlighting the complexity of the contraband issue and the fact that the Union Army dragooned African Americans into service as domestic workers, field laborers, and construction workers—reinforcing the continued inferior status of African-Americans.

Image Credit: Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, October 26, 1861 via the Library of Congress.

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