Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon of Philadelphia.

Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon of Philadelphia.

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This colorful chromolithograph contains an animated scene of the Union volunteer refreshment saloon located near the Navy Yard at Swanson and Washington Avenues in Philadelphia, as it appeared in November of 1863. Located on a railroad hub linking the North and the South, the saloon was staffed by volunteers and provided relief for Union troops to soldiers on their way to or returning from battlefields in the South. Its services included warm meals, temporary housing, medical services, and washing facilities. From its opening on May 27, 1861, to its closing on December 1, 1865, over 800,000 men were assisted in this saloon and served over 1,025,000 meals. In the print, a crowd of civilians and a few wounded soldiers line the street to welcome a formation of soldiers who parade down the road towards the saloon. At the right, men another unit depart the saloon and board a Philadelphia, Wilmington, & Baltimore railroad car, bound for the battlefront. A band dressed in road uniforms performs patriotic songs while American flags are waved in the crowd and dot the skyline of the scene. The names of men who were involved in collecting donations for the saloon are listed in the lower margin along with the names of its committee members.
The Philadelphia saloons received support from 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.
The print was created by James Fuller Queen, a pioneering chromolithographer active in Philadelphia, who served in a Civil War militia between 1862 and 1863. Its printer, Thomas S. Sinclair, was a Scottish immigrant to Philadelphia who worked in the lithographic shop of John Collins, before taking over the business the next year. His firm was profitable into the 1880s, producing maps, city views, certificates, book illustrations, political cartoons, sheet music covers, and fashion advertisements.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
Sinclair, Thomas
Queen, James
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
image: 16 1/4 in x 27 in; 41.275 cm x 68.58 cm
ID Number
catalog number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Architecture, Domestic Buildings
Patriotism and Patriotic Symbols
Uniforms, Military
Civil War
Civic Associations
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Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Clothing & Accessories
Domestic Furnishings
American Civil War Prints
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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