This colored lithograph depicts the second Camp Convalescent, a military camp near Alexandria, built to house soldiers recently released from hospitals, stragglers who had become separated from their units, and men on parole from Confederate prisons. In December 1862, it replaced the first Camp Convalescent, nicknamed “Camp Misery” by its inhabitants. The original camp had only tents, and was constantly lacking adequate supplies of food and fuel for fires. The upper panel of this print depicts the new camp’s wooden barracks. The lower panel presents the camp’s administrative buildings, five of which are arranged in a semicircle. These include, the officer and staff quarters, the soldiers’ library, a church, and the quartermaster and commissary’s offices.
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.
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