Plate VII from 'My story of the war: A woman's narrative of four years personal experience as nurse in the Union Army', by Mary A Livermore (Hartford: A D Worthington and Company, 1889). [NLS shelfmark: Hend.534]
Baptist Bostonian Mary Livermore served as a nurse during the American Civil War, organising about 3,000 relief groups to send medical supplies to Union forces.
Livermore's publishers commissioned artists and photographers to travel to each Northern state to record regimental flags especially for this work.
Union and Confederate flags acted as visual battle cries: rallying troops, they inspired courage and allegiance. Livermore's publisher wrote:
'No patriot eye can look upon these battle-stained mementos of the war without mingled feelings of admiration, pride, sadness.'
In the image shown here, the eagle depicted in the centre is 'Old Abe', the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin regiment during the American Civil War.
He was a constant target of enemy riflemen, but survived 30 skirmishes and 22 battles atop his perch, often carried by one of the tallest soldiers in the regiment.
Seeing Old Abe flying along Union lines, Confederate General Sterling Price offered a bounty to his men for the capture or kill of the eagle. He stated that Old Abe was worth more to Union morale than 'a whole brigade or a dozen battle flags'.
We featured items relating to the American Civil War in our display 'Yankee cries and Rebel yells' at the Library from 21 January to 29 March 2015.