A broadside was a printed poster used to report news, announcements of importance, and advertising. They were usually of normal paper thickness and similar to current 8-1/2” x 11” size though they could be larger or smaller. These broadsides would be tacked or nailed to bulletin boards, posts, trees, buildings or other areas where a bold headline would catch the eye of the passing public so that they would stop to read the full content. During the Civil War, broadsides were commonly used for recruiting purposes. Because of their fragility, few survived into modern times.
At the beginning of the war, the Knoxville Guards, a military and fraternal group formed in 1859, was offered to Governor Isham Harris for Confederate service. The Guards became Company E of the 19th Tennessee Infantry. It is unknown if they utilized a recruiting broadside but it is doubtful as they already had greater than company level strength within the group.
While East Tennessee had a significant population of Union sentiment, Confederate recruitment certainly took place. As evidence of that, a Confederate recruiting broadside from the Morristown area which did survive was duplicated on a postcard, The postcard, which appeared to be from the early 1900s, recently came up for auction on E-Bay. A picture of the full broadside, nailed to a wood backing, was the front of the postcard. The broadside was dated May 17, 1861. It makes for interesting reading.
The Yankee War is now being waged for “beauty and booty.” They have driven us from them, and now say OUR TRADE they must and will have. To excite their hired and ruffian soldiers, they promise them our lands, and tell them our women are beautiful – that beauty is the reward of the brave.
Tennessans ! your country calls ! Shall we wait until our homes are laid desolate; until sword and rape have visited them ? NEVER ! Then
and let us meet the enemy on the borders. Who so vile, so craven, as not to strike for his native land ?
The undersigned propose to immediately raise an infantry company to be offered to the Governor as part of the defense of the State and of the Confederate States. All those who desire to join with us in serving our common country, will report themselves immediately.
May 17, 1861
There is no mention of state’s rights, preserving the southern economy, or maintaining the current agrarian way of life (i.e. slavery). Instead, the poster mentions hired ruffian soldiers, land being taken from them, and their beautiful women being raped; hardly an inspiring message. It is unknown of this strangely worded broadside attracted enough recruits to actually form an infantry company as was desired by the two recruiters. Neither man is listed among the 1,435 men of the Confederate 19th Tennessee Infantry regiment.
The results of this broadside would be interesting to determine. Perhaps one of our readers from that area of East Tennessee can shed additional light on this curiously worded recruiting poster.