Soldiers Rest, Washington, D.C.

Description
Soldiers Rest was one of the largest military facilities erected in Washington, D.C. during the war years and was situated on the north side of Capitol Hill, along North Capitol Street and Delaware Avenue NW. Located next to the B&O Railroad, it provided lodging and hot meals to new recruits from the North on their way to join the Union Armies of the Potomac and Shenandoah, and also soldiers waiting to return to the battlefront and those recently paroled from Confederate prisoner camps. By the time it closed in March 1866, Soldiers Rest had provided services to 974,000 men. This print provides a birds-eye view of the military compound. In the lower left corner, groups of soldiers welcome the arrival of a train used to transport troops. The Capitol Building is visible in the distance at the right, but in 1864, at the time of this print’s production, the dome would still have been under scaffolding.
Stations like Soldiers Rest were supported by the United States Sanitary Commission, a relief agency approved by the War Department on June 18, 1861 to provide assistance to sick, wounded, and travelling Union soldiers. Although the leaders of the Commission were men, the agency depended on thousands of women, who collected donations, volunteered as nurses in hospitals, and offered assistance at rest stations and refreshment saloons. They also sponsored Sanitary Fairs in Northern cities, raising millions of dollars used to send food, clothing, and medicine to Union soldiers.
Charles Magnus (1826-1900) was born Julian Carl Magnus in Germany and immigrated with his family to New York City sometime between 1848 and 1850. During the 1850s, he learned the printing business while working with his brother on a German language weekly newspaper, the Deutsche Schnellpost. He later began his own lithographer firm, producing city views and commercial letterhead designs. During the Civil War, he designed pro-Union envelopes and illustrated song sheets. The firm’s Washington, D.C. branch also produced small, hand-colored scenes of Union camps and hospitals. Soldiers purchased these picturesque scenes of camp life to send home to calm the worries of anxious family members.
Location
Currently not on view
Date made
1864
maker
Magnus, Charles
place made
United States: New York, New York
Measurements
image: 10 1/2 in x 16 3/4 in; 26.67 cm x 42.545 cm
ID Number
DL.60.3736
catalog number
60.3736
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
subject
Civil War
related event
Civil War
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
Art
Data Source
National Museum of American History

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