Painted Canteen

Physical Description
Round metal painted with camp scene.
Specific History
This canteen was said to have been used at Gettysburg.
General History
The scene painted on this canteen is a snapshot of camp life, preserved as a memento of the war like a letter home or a diary entry. At right, a soldier appears to be on guard duty beside a tent over which flies an American flag. To the left, another soldier sits on a log before a fire. The scene evokes the rituals and chores of camp life: pitching tents, standing guard, gathering firewood, and preparing food. Soldiers accustomed to the orderliness of camp life as depicted here faced a stark contrast when they entered battle at Gettysburg and other chaotic killing grounds. Memories of camp and its monotonous routine could be soothing to men who endured grueling campaigns, which may explain why this unknown soldier-artist chose to depict that theme on an object that meant much to him.
Object Name
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
cork (overall material)
overall: 22.5 cm x 16.8 cm x 6.5 cm; 8 27/32 in x 6 5/8 in x 2 9/16 in
United States: Pennsylvania
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Civil War
Civil War
Battle of Gettysburg, 1863
Civil War and Reconstruction
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
Civil War
The Price of Freedom: Americans at War
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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