Harper’s Weekly

Merry Christmas

by fifer1863 on December 25, 2014

On January 3, 1863, Harper’s Weekly ran the following Thomas Nast image of Santa Claus visiting the Civil War Soldiers


What can you see in the picture?  There is so much to see in this photo.  From the drummer boys playing with the Jack-in-the-box to the troops chasing a pig in the background (notice one soldier falling down in the chase).

How about a little seek and find.  Can you find:

  • a drum
  • a soldier with a pipe
  • Santa’s Reindeer
  • two American Flags
  • A soldier with a stocking
  • a soldier climbing a pole

This image is fun to look at and rich in details.  I love the outfit that Santa is wearing, the soldiers in their great coats, the Sibley tents and the “Welcome Santa” sign.  According to an brief article in the paper, Santa is showing the soldiers “Jeff Davis’s future.  He is tying a cord pretty tightly around his neck, and Jeff seems to be kicking very much at such a fate.” The article also says that a group of soldiers in the background are playing football.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.


Halloween During the Civil War

by fifer1863 on October 31, 2012

Just a quick Civil War themed Halloween post for everyone to enjoy.

Here is a photo from the October 26, 1861 edition of Harper’s Weekly.  It is called “Jeff Davis, Reaping the Harvest” and shows Confederate President Jefferson Davis standing in a field gathering crops with skulls on top of them.


Jeff Davis Reaping the Harvest

If you check out the high resolution version, you can really find some cool things in the image.  Can you and your students find:

  1. All of the skulls?
  2. The snake
  3. The noose
  4. The vulture

More questions for deeper thinking:

  • Why would the paper portray Jefferson Davis in this manner?
  • What is the significance of the various objects hidden in the image?
  • What is Jefferson Davis actually reaping?

Just another quick and easy way to integrate primary sources into your classroom.

Happy Halloween!


Santa Seek & Find

by Jim on December 24, 2010


I have blogged about Christmas in the past so I thought that I would continue the tradition of showing more connections of Christmas and the Civil War.

This time I am going to focus on a famous sketch of “Merry Old Santa Claus” by Thomas Nast.

This sketch appeared in the January 1, 1881 edition of Harper’s Weekly. In this photo we see “Merry Old Santa Claus” clad with toys, a pack on his back, his hat adorned with holly leaves and smoking his clay pipe. This early images of Santa have remained a

So, let’s do a little seek and find.  Can you find the following:

  • A baby doll
  • A pocket watch
  • A book
  • An officers sword
  • A belt with a US buckle
  • A toy horse

So, from my family to yours, wishing you a very Merry Christmas.


Christmas Eve

December 24, 2009

The above illustration by Thomas Nast is entitled “Christmas Eve, 1862” and is from an 1862 issue of Harper’s Weekly.  On the right side of the illustration is a Civil War soldier on duty sitting next to a fire on a cold night.  In addition to holding his musket, he is holding a photo of […]

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