But rather than being silent several comments have been forwarded from across North America and even England. The latest is from an old hometown of mine at Halifax Nova Scotia. And NS contributed plenty to the US during Civil War days. Thus he felt I should know about the 2011 issue by the US Mint of a 25 cent piece reminding us of the heroics of the USS Cairo in 1862.
Americans are very proud of their Civil War heritage, and so they should be. They take any commemorations for these men and women quite seriously. So ought we in Canada as some 50,000 of our own fought in that war and many more have fought before and after in other battles. We also should therefore have a keen interest in any coins that the US Mint has produced that celebrate these men and women.
Because of my reader, I am blogging today about several Civil War commemorative coins. There have been many more over the years but today I'll just look at those from the 1860's period.
The coin's reverse, in the center above, depicts a bundle of sticks, bound by an axe, flanked by the shields of the Union and the Confederacy and supported by sprays of oak and laurel. The inscription reads... "1863, 75th anniversary 1938, Battle of Gettysburg, in God we Trust, 1936.
Check your US change because much more recently, in 2011, the government approved the creation of the quarter above and to right, again in honour of Gettysburg. The image on the reverse is that of the monument to the 72nd Penn. Infantry which is located on the battle line of the Union army at Cemetery Ridge.
Many North Americans do not realize it but dozens of Canadians fought in this battle, many would lay dead on its fields when all was said and done and Medals of Honor were issued for this battle that had Canadian connections. Some of those fighting there from Canada would also go on to earn a medal at later battles. Canadian connections to this battle stretch right across this country as far to the west as Vancouver Island.
The Antietam battle was fought on 17 September 1862. It only lasted 12 hours. But when it was over one in four of the 113,000 (combined Union and Confederate) were either dead or wounded, Missing or Prisoners of War. The battle was the bloodiest battle in US history.
In 1937 the US mint produced the Half dollar coin shown at left. It was in honor of the 75th anniversary of the battle. The face of the coin depicts the commanders at the battle, General George B McClellan and Robert E Lee. The reverse shows an image of the Burnside Bridge.
In 1995 the US Mint produced a series of 3 coins called "Civil War Battlefield." The first was the gold $5, pictured to left, then the silver $1 and half dollar coins are shown. The gold was limited to 300,000 coins, the silver Halfs had 2,000,000 and the $1 had 1,000,000 coins authorized for minting.
The face of the gold coin depicts a bugler calling the troops to arms and its reverse has the eagle clutching a banner that reads..."Let Us Protect and Preserve."
The face of the Half Dollar shows a drummer boy while the reverse battlefield scene carries the words ..."Enriching our future by Preserving our Past."
The face of the Bottom $1 coin shows a soldier raising his canteen to the lips of his wounded foe, and the reverse contains a quote from gamed CW hero Joshua Chamberlain. It says..." In great deeds something abides on great fields, something stays, forms change and pass bodies disappear. But spirits linger to consecrate ground for the vision place of souls."
These three coins honor the 100 anniversary of the beginning efforts to start saving historic CW battlefields for future generations.
More on this next week.