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Cartoon: “24 Weeks on the Potomac”: Illustration for “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper” (February 1, 1862); verso: study for the same subject
Date: 1862
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Medium: Black ink over graphite on ivory paper
Dimensions: Overall: 6 1/4 x 9 1/8 in. ( 15.9 x 23.2 cm ) mat: 11 x 14 in. ( 27.9 x 35.6 cm )
Description: Civil War Drawings Collection.This cartoon satirizes the extended military standoff between General McClellan’s Army of the Potomac and Confederate General Beauregard’s Army of the Shenandoah during the fall and winter of 1861 (fig. 106b.1). In this wry cartoon published in Frank Leslie’s under the title Masterly Inactivity or Six Months on the Potomac, the enthroned McClellan and Beauregard recline leisurely, observing each other across the Potomac through exaggerated telescopes as the troops encamped at their sides hurl stones in a parody of battle. Both generals, depicted here with attitudes of regal indifference, fancied themselves as latter-day Napoleons. Following early Union losses, McClellan drilled his troops for several months without attempting any significant offensive action, while Beauregard took advantage of the respite from combat to assemble and train his army as well. McClellan ignored executive orders to advance until finally relieved of supreme command in March 1862, when he was ordered to lead the Army of the Potomac against Richmond, marking the beginning of the Peninsular Campaign. Reproduced in Roberta J.M. Olson, Drawn By New York: Six Centuries of Watercolors and Drawings from the N-YHS (London: Giles, 2008), 312-313.
Credit Line: Purchase, James B. Wilbur Fund
Object Number: 1945.580.82
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Inscribed: Inscribed at lower center in black ink: "24 weeks on the Potomac."; verso inscribed along upper edge in graphite: "Cartoon 'Masterly Inactivity' or 'Six Months on the Potomac' / in 'Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper'. Feb 1, 1862"; engraving published with signature "A.B.", for Albert Berghaus, Leslie's master engraver and artist


John T. Kavanaugh Collection, Rutherford, New Jersey, 1945


Holzer, Harold, ed. "Lincoln and New York." New York: The New-York Historical Society and London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd., 2009.