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Full Measure of Devotion: Animals of the Civil War

Sketch by Alfred R. Waud entitled “Momentoes [sic] of the Battlefield." Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
U.S. History Scene
Aug 2015

A conflict of many firsts, the American Civil War (1861 – 1865) was one of the earliest truly industrial wars.  The Civil War, however, was also the first war of “industrialized animal power,” the greatest single event demanding the massive mobilization of animals and their ability to perform work in the nineteenth century.  The Civil War, and its demand for animal power and comfort, required the recruitment of people and animals and their ability to work together on an unprecedented scale. In doing so, the war, despite all its industrial trappings, offers a glimpse into the ways in which animals have literally put in motion consequential historical undertakings, as well as provided sources of comfort and familiarity through which their humans imagine their own dreams, fears, and purposes.