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“Killing Time,” my article on playing cards in the Civil War, was run in New York Times Disunion blog – read it here. (The article was re-issued in The Civil War Monitor, Winter 2012, vol. 2, no. 4, print edition.)

Re the picture of Civil War Generals Playing Cards, featured with the article, a little more info:

The Confederate and Union Generals playing cards, made in 1863 by M. Nelson of New York, blend old and new with indices of unindexed miniature playing cards. Military rank did not tally with card rank; Brigadier-General George L. Andrews is king to Major-General Grant in the suit of diamonds. General Lee’s dated portrait, with its inaccurate tunic, is based on a post-Mexican War engraving that was in turn based on a circa 1850 photograph of Lee in civilian clothes. (Reproduction of Civil War Generals decks courtesy of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Here are a couple more pics of CW men playing cards…

Officers of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry playing cards in front of tents, Petersburg, Virginia, August 1964 (Collection of Library of Congress)
Quarters of Dr. David McKay (Army of the James). The old-fashioned, unindexed deck forces the player on the right to spread his cards to see that he’s holding a ten, rather than a nine, of spades. (Photo collection of the U.S. Library of Congress)
Union Playing Cards. Photo via The Rail Splitter: A Journal for the Lincoln Collector (
It is probably early 62. The unit is the 7th NYSM. Great period joke photo. Sloth, whiskey, cards, smoking. The provost marshal has his cup, too! Al Hagovsky, the guards are holding muskets The original this print came from is fuzzy. However, they are doing a variation of support arms and are clearly holding it lower than shown in Casey’s. They also are wearing a cool militia jacket, probably grey in color.” Description by Eugene Jesse Nash III ( | photo via CHarm City Vintage Prints (
Three unidentified soldiers playing cards, smoking, and drinking in front of American flag. I almost wonder if this isn’t some CSA propaganda put about during the Great Revival! (Collection of Library of Congress)

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  1. Pingback:Mexican War to the Civil War

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