Harper’s Weekly – August 30, 1862

About a month before Nast joined Harper’s Weekly, two Confederate colonels (soon to be generals) — Nathan Bedford Forrest in Tennessee and John Morgan in Kentucky — with commands of 800 to 1,000 men each — conducted devastating guerilla raids against troops under the control of Union General Don Carlos Buell. They not only caused significant casualties and captured valuable supplies, but they also demoralized Buell’s army and Northern civilians who read about the defeats. Unlike regular soldiers, guerillas generally were not paid wages by the Confederate government. Instead, they could dispose of their captured supplies for their own benefit, with the government as primary purchaser.

In his third cartoon for the Weekly, Nast unleashed the first of his full-scale, imaginative guerilla illustrations, depicting almost the entire gamut of criminal activities — murder, decapitation, arson and robbery — while intimating but not showing rape. The accompanying text was not as discreet when it talked about “making free with female purity” and “shrieks of agony . . . from outraged matrons and maidens,” as well as “butchered children.” Nast gave life to the inflammatory but realistic description.