CWTS Article of the Month!

May 1999

"George McClellan - The Peace Maker?"

by Everet K.Cooper

  Extracted from The Civil War Token Journal, Volume 31 Number 4.

   Those non-government privately issued quasi-money metallic and composition devices that we choose to call tokens are arbitrarily divided into three different categories by collector's and dealers.  These divisions are labeled as Sutler Tokens, Store Card Tokens, and Patriotic Civil War Tokens. The first two divisions are explicitly descriptive and those tokens most often neatly fit into those two categories.  The last division, Patriotic Civil War Tokens, in truth would be more descriptive if it were called All Other Civil War Tokens.  Though, it certainly is not denied that a patriotic intent is apparent in a great number of those included in this group and the label "patriotic' is appeal- ing for this genre of tokens.  A quick visual review and arbitrary classification of each Fuld number patriotic token design shows the following tabulation.    

Imitation of U-S. coin  17.2%
Non-patriotic devices  30.2%
Copper-head & uncertain devices  3.3%
Sub-total non-Patriotic 50.1%
Patriotic Personalities 12.1%
Patriotic words/devices 37.2%
Sub-total Patriotic 49.3%

    Thus, for all intents and purposes about half of each of the token designs is not of a patriotic nature.  The non-patriotic design may be combined (muled) with a patriotic design to make it into a patriotic token.  Interestingly, about 17% of the designs could be, when in circulation, hastily assumed to be a U.S. coin.  This, obviously, a far cry from a patriotic intent.

    Archival records are not available to reveal the intent of the token manufacturer when a design for a token was conceived and the token put into production.  This information must remain a part of the mystique for patriotic token collector's in allowing their imagination to work in interpreting the his- torical message or intent in the token.

    Take for example the tokens displaying a single cannon as the focal point of several token designs.  Some of these include the words PEACE MAKER or such words may be not included.  These tokens as listed in the Fuld catalog are as follows:    

Fuld 169 PEACE include pointing left,13 stars, no date, no cannon balls.  Unknown maker.
Fuld 171 THE PEACEMAKER, cannon pointing right, dated 1863,  cannon balls, flag pole.  Attributed George J. Glaubrecht, New York.
Fuld 168 No words, cannon pointing left, dated 1863, 13 stars,  cannon balls.  Attributed Waterbury Button Company.
Fuld 170  No words, cannon pointing right, no date, cannon balls, no stars; endosed in wreath.  Unknown maker.

    Four different patriotic tokens linked by a common denominator pr- marily an intimidating field artillery piece.  These tokens were apparently pro- duced by at least two different token manufacturers.  Do we assume the sym- bolism to be that the impressive cannon, suggestive of the industrial and mili- tary might of the Union, will conquer the enemy and bring about peace?  Would it be a coincidence or plan that the token design artists of two token manufac- turers by chance originated similar designs?  Or did one copy the other?  Why were the words PEACE MAKER dropped from one of the tokens?  

    The "flip" side of the token must be considered as to revealing a pur- pose for the token when mated (muled) with a design.  The following combin- ations are listed in the Fuld catalog.    

168/311  Cannon only/ARMY & NAVY
171/340 THE PEACEMAKER/Shield & liberty cap

    The extreme rarity (R -1 0) of the Fuld 21/170 would indicate this to be a test piece and never achieved any level of production.  Therefore, it will not be considered in the scope of this analysis.

    Three of the above four are patriotic themes without question.  The fourth with the initials "C.L.R." is somewhat of a mystery.  One might speculate that they may be the initials of token manufacturer Louis Roloff on the possibility of his having a first initial of "C".  If the token manufacturer wanted to advertise his business I would believe that he would more fully identify himself.  I suspect that most of the world would not identify him or his business by the initials alone.  It is interesting to note the subjects of other tokens that these mysterious initials (Fuld 428) were used with and that almost all were of a patriotic theme.  They are as shown below.    

125/428 ABM LINCOLN PRESIDENT 1864  R- 9
127/428  Lincoln bust  R -8
171/428 THE PEACEMAKER 1863  R- 1
248/428  O.K.  R- 9
294/428 FREEDOM  R- 9
295/428  FREEDOM  R- 9
340/428  Shield, flags, liberty pole. R -9

    Judging by the rarity numbers, the token design of the mysterious "C.L. R." initials were produced in very limited quantities.  This includes the muling of "C.L.R." with THE PEACE MAKER (Fuld 171) cannon to make the token Fuld 171/428 with rarity ratings of R-7 and R-9.  This was the only token in the cannon series attributed to a second token manufacturer George J. Glaubrecht of New York City.  Judging by the high rarity ratings his production was pro- bably quite limited.

    The gun carriage of the cannon in these tokens appears of eighteenth-  century vintage but that will be considered to be artistic license for the die  designer and is not a significant factor.

    Discarding the theory that the "Peace Makee' theme was just random  support for the war,  what could be the purpose of the token's message or  design?  Note that on two tokens the 1863 date appear's.  Consider that just off-  stage that year was a national hero and one whose name and face were  instantly recognizable and included on several patriotic tokens.  This was Major-  General George B. McClellan.  He had been removed from field command of  the Union's most powerful army in November 1862 by President Abraham  Lincoln.  He then retired to New York City with members of his staff ostensibly  to prepare his official reports of his prior field campaigns.  McClellan was still an  immensely popular hero and was being courted by many of the leaders in the  Democratic party as an 1864 presidential or Ohio gubernatoral candidate.  However, in early June 1863 he declined nomination as Democratic candidate  for governor in his home state of Ohio.  In late June 1863 numerous spontan-  eous recommendations from prominent Northerners were sent to President  Lincoln for the return to duty of General McClellan.  These recommended his  leading the military forces in repelling Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania at a time  when General Hooker was being removed from command of the Union Army  of the Potomac.  Lincoln placed General Meade in command and McClellan  continued in New York City writing his reports and corresponding with promi-  nent Democrats.  In mid-1863 the weariness in the country from the war caused  a yearning for peace in the North.  Horace Greely wrote to Lincoln that "nine-  tenths of the whole American people, North and South, are anxious for peace-  peace on almost any terms." The Democratic party was fractured into war-  Democrats and peace-Democrats with pressure to include a peace plank in  their 1864 platform.  Many of the Democrats feared that Clement Vallandig-  ham of Ohio, apparent leader of the so-called "Copperheads", would be  selected as their 1864 presidential candidate.  McClellan remained noncom-  mitted as an alternate candidate.  Privately he made it known that he could not  accept a platform that promised a negotiated peace that did not bring the  seceded states back into the Union.  To do otherwise, McClellan believed,  would not be faithful to the soldiers killed or wounded- If McClellan was to be  the candidate the image of peace through military success had to be the per-  ception by the voters, particularly those in the military.  Thus, the "soft sell" of  peace maker but the visual cannon expressing the image of military prowess.  This had to be among the opening shots for presidential candidate George  Brinton McClellan.  Perhaps, not of his own designing.

      Most of this is conjecture based on our limited knowledge of the  tokens involved woven into certain historical facts of the period involved.  As  the Civil War veteran finished his tale of war experiences to a veteran's group  he was challenged from the audience about certain facts.  His prompt response  was that when you have a good story to tell an eye witness always shows up.  We need "eye witnesses" in the form of writtten records or other theories.    

CWTS Article Archive
Winter 2016 A Reminiscence
Winter 2016 My First Sulter Token
Spring 2016 Protesting Union Civil War Policies
Winter 2015 Slave Owner Issued Civil War Tokens
Fall 2014 Hill the Barber & African American Store Card Issuers
Fall 2014 Gustavus Lindenmueller: The Myth, The Man, The Mystery
Apr. 2004 Henry Varwig - OH165GD
Mar. 2004 Dating Mr. Sayre's Tokens
Feb. 2000 Knowledge of Civil War Tokens
Jan. 2000 Ohio 710A
Dec. 1999 Speculations About Yankee Robinson
Nov. 1999 Hussey's Private Message Post
Oct. 1999 The Great Central Fair
Sep. 1999 Wm. S. Wilcox of Adrian, Michigan
Aug. 1999 Grading Isn't Really a Monster
July 1999 The 1860 Presidential Campaign Medalets
June 1999 The Other Store Cards of Central New York
May 1999 George McClellan - The Peace Maker?
Apr. 1999 Sutler Tokens at Gettysburg
Mar. 1999 More on the Monitor and Merrimac
Feb. 1999 Civil War Token Mini-Set -- General Franz Sigel
Jan. 1999 Die Sinker Errors on Civil War Tokens
Dec. 1998 The Abraham Lincoln Mini-set
Nov. 1998 Civil War Token Errors
Articles reprinted with permission of The Civil War Token Society.
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