TPS logo

Civil War Image Gallery

The Library of Congress digital collections house a wide variety of Civil War sources including many Tennessee-related sources. In this gallery, you will find a sampling of what the Library of Congress has to offer. These sources will rotate periodically, so be sure to check back to see what's new!


Hospital ship. Nashville

.Title: Hospital ship, Nashville [between 1861 and 1865]

During the Civil War, the Union army and navy used hospital ships to care for sick and wounded soldiers and sailors.  Medical care evolved significantly during the war, and hospital ships provided yet another way to treat the multitudes of ill and injured men over the course of the four-year conflict. The Nashville served on the Mississippi River, as did the better-known Red Rover, which is pictured here and here.  The Red Rover, which was a captured Confederate steamer, carried enough supplies to care for 200 patients for 3 months, as well as a substantial crew of officers, soldiers, surgeons, and nurses.

  • How would you describe the size of the ship?
  • Can you tell what any of the people on board are doing?
  • Why do you think the ship might have been named Nashville?
  • If you were a sick or injured soldier or sailor, what might you like about being on a hospital ship?  What might you dislike about it?

Lt. Hiram Hendley

Title: [Lieutenant Hiram L. Hendley of Co. A, 9th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion with double barrel shotgun and Bowie knife] [between 1861 and 1865]

Men from Sumner County, TN, organized Company A of this battalion on September 1, 1862.  The battalion was expanded into a regiment in November 1862.  Many of the regiment’s men were taken prisoner during Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s raid into Ohio in July 1863.  Bowie knives like the one held by Lt. Hendley became popular as fighting knives in the South prior to the Civil War.  During the war, soldiers found that the knife was less useful to them than a rifle, revolver, or bayonet.

  • Why do you think Civil War soldiers and officers had their pictures made?
  • Why might Lt. Hendley have posed with two weapons?
  • What surprises you about this photo?
  • How does the photo contrast with the case?

Co. Aytch

Title:1861 vs 1882. "Co. Aytch," Maury grays, First Tennessee regiment; or, A side show of the show.

From our June 2014 Newsletter Lesson Idea (see p. 2) on Sam Watkins and Co. Aytch:
Samuel “Sam” Rush Watkins (1839–1901) from Columbia, TN, joined the Confederate army early in 1861, along with many of his relatives and neighbors. Watkins fought throughout the war with the First Tennessee Infantry, Company H, called the “Maury Grays.” He survived with only minor injuries and was one of few left in his unit when the Army of Tennessee surrendered to Gen. William T. Sherman in April 1865. After the war, Watkins returned home to Columbia and married. He began writing his memoirs in 1881, publishing them as a serial in the Columbia Herald newspaper. The serials were combined as a book in 1882. The Library holds both the first and second editions in digital form.  The title page shown here is from the first edition.

  • Why might Watkins have used "Aytch" rather than "H" in identifying his company?
  • What do you think he meant by "a side show of the big show"?  What was the "big show"?
  • The quote from the Aeneid, an epic poem by Virgil about the founding of Rome, on the title page means, "So many terrible things I saw, and in so many of them I played a big part."  What do you think he meant by that?
  • When did the Library of Congress acquire this book?

Short Rations

Title: Short rations. 1864 (Courtesy of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University)

This sheet music was published in Augusta, Georgia, in 1864.  It was dedicated to the “corn-fed Army of Tennessee.”  Corn, long a staple of the southern diet, provided fuel for both men and animals during the Civil War.  As other foods became scarcer and scarcer within the Confederacy, corn was used as a substitute for many items, including coffee.  Rations for Confederate soldiers were reduced more than once toward the end of the war, and this song treats this development with humor.

  • What is the mule’s problem?
  • Who are “Ye Tragic” and “Ye Comic”?
  • Which instrument is this music written for?
  • Why is music important during war time?

Lincoln's Last Hour

Title:Lincoln’s last hour. [c. 1865]

The death of President Abraham Lincoln on April 15, 1865, a day after he was shot by Confederate supporter John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C., is often interpreted as the final tragedy of the Civil War.  In Tennessee, Unionists mourned the president's death, and Union occupation troops tolled bells, fired cannons, and held services to honor their fallen leader.  While the president's assassination had enormous political consequences for the country as a whole, it also had important ramifications for Tennessee in particular because it catapulted Vice President Andrew Johnson of Greeneville into the presidency.

  • Why would an artist depict the president on his deathbed?
  • Who do you think might have wanted to own a copy of such a print?
  • Why might the publisher have translated the title into German and French at the bottom of the print?
  • What questions come to mind based on how the room appears and the number of people in the room?  (President Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, was overwhelmed with grief and did not sit by his bedside as he lay dying.) 

2013 Civil War Gallery

2012 Civil War Gallery

Last updated on: 08/11/15 12:58 pm