The Graduate Center - City University of New York

The Empty Sleeve.

The use of soft lead bullets in Civil War rifles caused devastating injuries, including shattered bones that resulted in amputations, the most common surgery during the war. An estimated 45,000 amputees survived the war and became common sights in their communities. The loss of a limb was often viewed as a symbol of bravery, sacrifice, and service. In poetry and literature amputees became a metaphor for the heroic efforts by soldiers to keep the nation from being dismembered. The image of veterans with amputations appeared in a number of prints and illustrations of the period, including this 1866 print that accompanied a poem titled "The Empty Sleeve."

Creator: Adelaide R. Sawyer/John Chester Buttre

Date: 1866

Publisher: New York: J. C. Buttre

Source: American Antiquarian Society