Dreaming of Home
William Sidney Mount’s Fruit Piece: Apples on Tin Cups depicts two weathered tin cups, known as “dippers,” each with an apple sitting atop. The tin cups were standard issue for Union soldiers, who often wore them dangling from their belts as they marched, or on their saddles as they rode into battle. These cups were objects of war, yet by placing them in this domestic setting, Mount’s painting suggests that the distance between battlefield and home front could easily collapse. The artist donated his painting to the 1864 Great Metropolitan Fair in Manhattan, where its sale helped the US Sanitary Commission raise money for war relief.
Letters exchanged between soldiers and loved ones chart the personal connections between battle front and home front. Union soldier George Deal, stationed in Vicksburg, often wrote to his wife, Sarah, in Columbus, Ohio, about his longing for home and the comforts of family meals. In this letter George thanks Sarah for her recent correspondence and expresses concern about her health. Back home, this ordinary soldier’s patriotic war stationery would be a poignant reminder of the higher cause for which he fought.
The war spurred the development of a thriving photographic portrait industry in cities and towns throughout the North. Like the many hundreds of thousands marching off to war, Private Deal had this portrait made as a keepsake and memento for those he left behind. Deal was killed at the Battle of Atlanta in 1864.