The Old Guard (New York) Vol. 1, No. 1 (January 1863) to Vol. 5, No. 12 (December 1867), comprising 57 issues (several are combined monthly issues), bound in five volumes. Octavos. Vols. 1 and 2 in the black cloth publisher’s binding, with wear to top and bottom of spine and tips. Vols. 3 through 5 in mismatching half-leather and marbled boards, with generalized rubbing all around. Contents VG, with the usual foxing. $1,250
The Old Guard was the only consistently anti-Lincoln Copperhead publication of the Civil War. It began erratic publication in 1862, but it was suppressed by the Federal Government during a general crackdown on the press in 1862. When those restrictions were eased at the end of the year, editor Chauncey Burr resumed publication in January of 1863. (The first two numbers of the 1863 volume are identified as Vol. 2, nos. 1 and 2. But then Burr decided to consider the January 1863 issue the true first issue of volume 1, so the March issue bears the Vol. 1, No. 3 designation, subsequent issues are numbered accordingly, and most of the editorial matter from the first (suppressed) volume is reprinted in the latter half of the 1863 volume.) These two Civil War volumes bristle with astounding, angry diatribes against the war effort in general, and abolitionism and Lincoln in particular. Mott tells us, “The Old Guard defended slavery and the right of secession, attacked President Lincoln violently in every number, and urged the cessation of the war. It was, it claimed ‘the only magazine published in the United States which is devoted to the fearless and uncompromising exposure of the monstrous crimes and frauds of the party in power.'” Each volume is illustrated with engravings of anti-Lincoln political leaders (eight in volume 1, ten in volume 2). We hear a good deal about the opposition Lincoln faced within the North during the Civil War, but that opposition was, in fact, poorly organized and largely inarticulate. The press, by and large, supported the Union effort, even while it argued over tactics. These volumes then constitute an extraordinary historical document, preserving a largely unrecorded point-of-view. Scarce and desirable.