Plate 76. A Fancy Group - Scene in Front of Petersburg

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Text and photograph from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, Vol. II. Negative by David Knox, text and positive by Alexander Gardner.
The monotony of camp life was relieved by every variety of amusement that was known, or could be devised. During the periods of inactivity, base ball, cricket, gymnastics, foot races, &c., were indulged in to a great extent, and on holidays horse races, foot races, and other games were allowed. Sometimes the men would put up a greased pole, with a prize on the top, for anyone who succeeded in climbing up to it, and not unfrequently a pig would be turned loose with a shaved and greased tail, for the men to catch. Any grip but a "tail hold" was illegitimate, but he who seized and held the pig by this appendage, carried it off in triumph to his mess.
Cock fighting, however, was quite unusual, and seldom permitted, except when some of the contrabands incited their captured Shanghais, or more ignoble fowls, to combat. Such displays were always ludicrous, and were generally exhibited for the amusement of the mess for whom the feathered bipeds were intended. Horses and mules perished by hundreds from ill-usage, but with thin exception it would be exceedingly difficult to cite an instance of cruelty to animals in the army. Fowls, dogs, kittens, and even wild animals, were made pets of, and were cared for most tenderly. Sometimes a regiment would adopt a dog, and woe to the individual who ventured to maltreat it. Several of the Western regiments carried pet bears with them, and one regiment was accompanied by a tame eagle in all its campaigns.
Currently not on view
date made
Gardner, Alexander
place made
United States: Virginia, Petersburg
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 7 in x 9 in; 17.78 cm x 22.86 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
related event
Civil War
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gardner's Sketchbook
Family & Social Life
Sports & Leisure
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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