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American Civil War

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The American Civil War, also known as the War between the States or simply the Civil War, was a war fought from 1861 to 1865 between the United States (the "Union" or the "North") and several Southern states that had declared their secession and formed the Confederate States of America (the "Confederacy" or the "South"). The war had its origin in the fractious issue of slavery, and, after four years of bloody combat, the Confederacy was defeated, slavery was abolished, and the difficult Reconstruction process of restoring unity and guaranteeing rights to the freed slaves began.

There were many magicians around during the years of the Civil War. Magic effects performed by magicians during this time included: The Spirit Cabinet,Second Sight, Bullet Catching, Levitations, The Inexhaustible Bottle, The Cups and Balls, The Sucker Die Box, The Devils Hank, Passe Passe Bottles, Flower Productions, The Genii Tube, Early Versions of the Misers Dream, Rising Cards, and Flag productions.[1]

Brief Timeline


  • November 6 - Abraham Lincoln Elected President of the United States
  • December 20 - South Carolina secedes from the Union.


  • February 9 - The Confederate States of America is formed with Jefferson Davis as president.
  • April 12–14, 1861 - The bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina.
  • July 21 - The Union Army under Gen. Irvin McDowell suffers a defeat at Bull Run 25 miles southwest of Washington. Confederate Gen. Thomas J. Jackson earns the nickname "Stonewall," as his brigade resists Union attacks.


  • January 31 - President Lincoln issues General War Order No. 1 calling for all United States naval and land forces to begin a general advance by Feb 22.
  • March 8-9 - The Confederate Ironclad 'Merrimac' sinks two wooden Union ships then battles the Union Ironclad 'Monitor' to a draw.
  • June 1 - Gen. Robert E. Lee assumes command, replacing the wounded Johnston.
  • June 25-July 1 - The Seven Days Battles as Lee attacks McClellan near Richmond, resulting in very heavy losses for both armies.
  • September 17 - The bloodiest day in U.S. military history as Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Armies are stopped at Antietam in Maryland by McClellan and numerically superior Union forces. By nightfall 26,000 men are dead, wounded, or missing.
  • December 13 - Army of the Potomac under Gen. Burnside suffers a costly defeat at Fredericksburg in Virginia.


  • January 1 - President Lincoln issues the final Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in territories held by Confederates and emphasizes the enlisting of black soldiers in the Union Army.
  • March 3 - The U.S. Congress enacts a draft, affecting male citizens aged 20 to 45, but also exempts those who pay $300 or provide a substitute.
  • July 1-3 - The tide of war turns against the South as the Confederates are defeated at the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.
  • July 4 - Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, surrenders to Gen. Grant and the Army of the West after a six week siege.
  • November 19 - President Lincoln delivers a two minute Gettysburg Address at a ceremony dedicating the Battlefield as a National Cemetery.


  • June 15 - Union forces miss an opportunity to capture Petersburg and cut off the Confederate rail lines. As a result, a nine month siege of Petersburg begins with Grant's forces surrounding Lee.
  • September 2 - Atlanta is captured by Sherman's Army.
  • November 8 - Abraham Lincoln is re-elected president, defeating Democrat George B. McClellan.
  • November 15 - After destroying Atlanta's warehouses and railroad facilities, Sherman, with 62,000 men begins a March to the Sea.


  • January 31 - The U.S. Congress approves the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, to abolish slavery.
  • April 2 - Grant's forces begin a general advance and break through Lee's lines at Petersburg. Lee evacuates Petersburg and the Confederate Capital, Richmond, is evacuated.
  • April 9 - Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia.
  • April 15 - President Abraham Lincoln dies at 7:22 in the morning. Vice President Andrew Johnson assumes the presidency.
  • April 26 - John Wilkes Booth is shot and killed in a tobacco barn in Virginia.
  • In May - Remaining Confederate forces surrender. The Nation is reunited as the Civil War ends. Over 620,000 Americans died in the war, with disease killing twice as many as those lost in battle. 50,000 survivors return home as amputees.[2]

Magicians who served

  • Thaddeus Lowe (August 20, 1832 - January 16, 1913), also known as Professor T. S. C. Lowe, was a magician, an American Civil War aeronaut, scientist and inventor, mostly self-educated in the fields of chemistry, meteorology, and aeronautics, and the father of military aerial reconnaissance in the United States. Lowe was a stage magician before the war.

  • Fred Bearns - joined the 14th New York State Militia during the Civil War. He was captured and held prisoner in Richmond Va. After the war he used the billing, "Returned Prisoner of War from Richmond, with his Most Charming Experiments in Magic and Ventriloquism".
  • Samri S. Baldwin - During the Civil War he joined the Ohio 83rd Infantry Regiment, Company B. He was the drummerboy for the regiment. After the war was over in 1865, Samri Baldwin began his performing career. He would continue to perform until his death on March 10th, 1924.

  • Gus Rich (1833-1917) - A tinsmith by trade, he gave his first performance of a magical nature to a large audience at the Ole Salem Concert Hall just before war broke out in 1860. When the Civil War started Rich became the drummer in a 26th North Carolina Regimental Band part of the Confederate Army. When not with the 26th Regiment he and his fellow band members put on performances to raise money for the confederate troops. Rich performed as "The Southern Magician". On April 8th, 1865, the 26th North Carolina Regimental Band was captured and imprisoned, but to their surprise they were released the following day. General Lee had surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox ending the Civil War. Gus Rich returned to his hometown of Salem, North Carolina adopting the moniker "The Wizard of the Blue Ridge" and continued to perform magic until 1914. [3]
  • Horatio Green Cooke- A teacher, an inventor, a carnival showman, magician, and escape artist, he served in the Union Army. Cooke was part of the 28th Regiment, Iowa Infantry. In 1862 the second year of the Civil War, Cooke, going by the name Harry, enlisted in the Union Army. He went from being a private in the Union Army to being selected to be one of Lincoln's Federal Scouts. In 1863, he fell under the command of Major General Ulysses S. Grant during the Siege of Vicksburg. On May 1st, 1864, Harry Cooke was ordered to appear before Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War in Washington D.C. When he arrived he found that along with Stanton, was General William Tecumseh Sherman, General Hancock, Robert Ingersoll and President Abraham Lincoln. They had heard of the young scouts unusual ability to free himself from restraints and were curious. So he was tied up with fifty feet of rope. After he was securely tied, Cooke asked Lincoln to walk ten feet away. Then he asked him to return and before Lincoln got back, Cooke had freed himself from the confinement. In the Fall of 1864, Harry was assigned to join General Sheridan in Winchester VA. On October 19th, Harry Cooke and six other scouts were captured by Mosby's Raiders under the command of 'The Grey Ghost', John Singleton Mosby. When his band of raiders captured Harry Cooke and his fellow scouts they took from them all their possessions. In Cooke's pocket was a personal letter from Lincoln appointing him to the position of Federal Scout. In Mosby's eyes Cooke was a spy and was sentenced to be hanged along with his other scouts. They were to get an early morning hanging, but their final evening on earth would be spent tied to a tree. Being the escape artist that he was, Cooke quietly freed himself from the ropes, and then proceeded to free his fellow prisoners and return back to the Union side under the cover of darkness. The prisoners split up on their return and three swam across the Potomac and the others made their way through the woods. Only two of the scouts made it back safely, and Cooke was one of the two. Cooke was in the audience, as John Wilkes Booth shot the President and then jumped to the stage and out the back doors of Fords Theatre. Harry Cooke did not perform during the war, except for the rope escape demonstration before President Lincoln and his friends. After the Civil War ended Horatio Green Cooke became "Professor Harry Cooke" and worked as a professional magician and 'Celebrated King of the Spirit Exposers". [4]

  • James H. Sharp - American Civil War veteran, magician, marionette player and ventriloquist, traveled around central Pennsylvania performing in a covered wagon with his ventriloquist dummy, Peter Hauntz, from 1865 until his death in 1908.
  • Andrew G. Waring (January 9, 1847 - October 7, 1915), born in Connecticut, was a performer of music and magic on the Lyceum circuit starting in 1880.[1] When a boy, he served his country as a "drummer" in the army of the Potomac, during the Civil War.

Magicians who performed

  • The Fakir of Ava, moved to America and was quite a successful performer during the Civil War.
  • Robert Heller - worked as a magician and musician prior to the Civil War. Around 1861, as the Civil War started, Heller began to get back into magic. By 1864 he opened on Broadway with a hit show called "Sallie Diabolpue".
  • John Henry Anderson (1814 – 1874) - Touring for Anderson was good up to the start of the Civil War, but as the tour progressed he began to feel the effects of the conflict between the states. As business was drying up all over the eastern U.S., Anderson arrived in Richmond to discovered he was not welcome. The Virginians did not take kindly to his posters proclaiming the arrival of "The Great Wizard of the NORTH". War broke out shortly after his visit to Richmond. He tried to continue but it was a loosing proposition, even when he took the tour westward. As a last ditch effort Anderson returned to New York City and hired an author to write a version of Shakespeare's TEMPEST but with an emphasis on pro-Northern ideals. He called this play "The Wizards Tempest", hoping to win over the Northern audiences. At first it appeared he had a huge hit on his hands, but with news that the war was not going well for the Union it seriously hurt business. After a few weeks the show was closed and Anderson found himself in debt. He worked out arrangements to repay his debts and went to England, leaving his family behind. [5]
  • Compars Herrmann (1816-1887) - In 1861, he came to America and began to perform in New Orleans. As the Civil War broke out Herrmann headed north to New York were he began to set attendance records. During his stay in Washington D.C., Compars Herrmann was invited to perform at the White House for President Abraham Lincoln and his invited guests. Compars Herrmann's assistant during this engagement was his 18 year old younger brother Alexander. Together they presented their Second Sight routine. Compars performed throughout the Northern States during the Civil War and in 1863 he left America and headed to England and didn't come back to America until 1869, after the Civil War had ended.[6]
  • Alexander Herrmann (1844-1896) - French magician, better known as "The Great Herrmann" and "Herrman the Great" and was part of the Herrmann family name which has been called "first-family of magic". Alexander was born in Paris to Samuel and Anna Sarah Herrmann, a physician who occasionally performed throughout Europe as a conjuror. Alexander's brother Compars Herrmann left medical school at an early age to pursue a career as a magician and served as a role model and inspiration for Alexander. Alexander joined his brother's stage show at the age of eight and the brothers toured the world together. Eventually they would go their separate ways, Compars returning to Europe and Alexander to America where he became a naturalized citizen in July 1876 in Boston. Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, Alexander and his wife Adelaide Herrmann performed together in elaborate stage shows.

  • Signor Blitz - His home town of Philadelphia became the principal depot for the sick and wounded during the War. Because of this, Blitz donated his services many times to the soldiers. Blitz presented 132 shows before 63,000 soldiers. [7]
  • John Wyman - performed as Wyman The Wizard and had the honor of performing for President Abraham Lincoln four times. Prior to the war he was a popular attraction in the Southern States and even out west on Mississippi River Boats. During the war, Wyman lived on 6th St in Washington D.C. for a period of time and his regular performance spot was at The Odd Fellows Hall located at 419 7th St N.W Washington.[8]

  • Davenport Brothers - April 1861 while in Chicago , the brothers were conducting a seance, when a voice was heard coming from a spirit trumpet. This spirit voice declared a military conflict was taking place off the coast of South Carolina at Fort Sumter between the North and the South. This is a time long before mass media and news traveled slow. Yet somehow this 'spirit' seemed to know what was taking place half way across the country. The Davenport's spirit guides revealed the start of the Civil War before the actual news of the event arrived by telegraph. The Davenport Brothers continued to tour the Northern States during the War but departed for England in 1864.

  • Joseph Michael Hartz born in Liverpool, England was a pioneer Vaudeville performer. By eighteen, Hartz was performing a full-evening show in London. He conceived the idea of constructing his props of glass and began presenting what he called "Crystal Magic", which included the "Crystal Pillar and Glove", the "Aerial Bell", and the "Incomparable Canary and Birdcage". In 1866, Hartz, with his brother Augustus, went to the United States. After years of performing, he opened up a magic store around 1870 called "Magical Repository" in New York with his brother, supplying equipment to magicians. This was possibly the first American magic shop. Hartz sold his business in 1876 in order to return to the stage.

Dr. Albert M. Wilson was an assistant and pupil to Robert Heller.

  • Fred Hunt, Jr, assistant to Robert Heller who wrote an expose of his second sight act after his death.
  • Dr. Lynn (1831 - 1899) shared the same manager as Heller, Hingston.

  • Dr. Henry Ridgely Evans (November 7, 1861- March 29, 1949), born in Baltimore, Maryland, was an amateur magician specializing in history of magic. Evans wrote many bios of Heller in magic magazines and his father knew of Heller as part of Washington society.

  • Hardin Jasper Burlingame (1852 - 1915), born in Manitowec, Wisconsin, was a professional magician for a brief time but more noted as a magic dealer and author.
  • Colonel Stodare - He went to London in 1865, working in opposition to John Henry Anderson.

  • Alexander Heimburger (1818-1909) was relatively unsuccessful until he came to North America in the 1840s. He had great success and even performed for President Polk in the White House.

  • W. Golden Mortimer ( December 27, 1854 - ), born in New York City, was first president of SAM. He started out as a magician as pupil of Robison, the Fakir. He toured the United States successfully as "Mortimer's Mysteries" before becoming a physician.
  • Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser (1806 - 1875) is called the Father of Card Magic by the most prominent representatives of modern card-artistry. In 1865 he went on tour with his show and was seen in Berlin, Munich and in most of the bigger cities in the Austrian Monarchy.
  • Joseph Vanek (1818-1889) was born in Hungary. In 1873, as part of a world tour, he included performances in the United States.
  • Barnardo Eagle (who also went by Na Barno) was a minor conjurer of the first half of the nineteenth century. Eagle, known as Barney, is chiefly remembered for his shameless copying of the tricks of John Henry Anderson, 'The Great Wizard of the North'. He toured Australia in 1856 and again in 1861. He taught his daughter Georgiana Eagle, who performed a second sight act. She performed a second-sight act by 1841 as "The Mysterious Lady". After marrying a man named Card (after 1872), she traveled for years as "Gilliland Card" and Madame Card, Magician and Hypnotist.
  • Anton Kratky-Baschik (1821 - 1889) was born in Kozlan, a little town in Bohemia. He started out as a harmonica player with his brother having great success. By 1850, he was performing magic in Germany working with Samuel Bellachini. In 1857, Kratky-Baschik started working with Bartholomeo Bosco in England. In 1864, he built his own theater in Vienna where he performed for several months before he started going blind. He allowed others to appear in his place including George Heubeck and Ottokar Fischer. He performed before Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle, November 3, 1858 and toured the United States for two years with P. T. Barnum's Show.
  • Professor Louis Haselmayer (September 18, 1839 - April 19, 1885), born in Vienna, Austria, was knonw as "Prince of Prestidigitators, Magician, Necromancer, Musician, and Educator of Birds." During the latter months of 1864, while giving a private performance, Professor Haselmayer chanced to have among his audience Compars Herrmann, who was so impressed with the marvelous illusions, that he immediately asked him to join in a professional tour through the United States. They also opened at the Academy of Music, New York, in September, 1865. After exhibiting in New York, Haselmayer made a tour of the country, then went to Australia, the East Indies, and South Africa. He performed in Australia during 1872, 1873, 1874, 1880 and 1882.

  • John Nevil Maskelyne (December 22, 1839 - May 18, 1917) was an English stage magician. He was the first in a long line of Maskelyne magicians. Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly from 1873 to 1904.
  • Professor Louis Hoffmann (July 23, 1839 - December 23, 1919), born Angelo John Lewis in England, was a lawyer, professor and the leading writer on magic, games, amusements and puzzles of his time. He published Modern Magic (1876) .
  • Charlier is only reputed to have performed in public once on January 25th 1882, at the Neumayer Hall, Hart Street, London. Mostly he gave lessons and exhibitions of card magic at private homes. Professor Hoffmann first met him in the mid 1870s.
  • Professor Robert Hellis was a photographer, magician, magic teacher and dealer in London. His magic students included Professor Hoffmann and Dr. Holden. He was a contact for Charlier
  • Joseph Bland, who may have originally worked as a dance instructor, was a magician and one of the most famous and respected magic dealers in Victorian London. He started as a dealer around 1855 and had a number of shops from which he sold magical apparatus. In 1863 he moved into the shop on Oxford Street in London.
  • Dr. Holden, The Queen's Magician, was a professional magician for 40 years. Holden took lessons from Prof. Hellis and in earlier days had called himself The Bohemian Magician. He gave his first appearance at Hope Hall in 1877 in Liverpool.

  • Fakir of Oolu (1813 - 1886), born Alfred Sylvester in England was most known for presenting the Aerial Suspension illusion as an Indian mystic in turban and full robes, surrounded by a decorative Oriental set.
  • John Henry Pepper (1821 - 1900), a chemical engineer developed the Pepper's Ghost illusion, suitable for use in existing theaters.
  • Wiljalba Frikell (1817-1903), born Friedrich Wilhelm Frickel in Prussia, was a German magician. He often performed as Professor Frikell. As one of the most famous magician of his time, when Frikell lost his apparatus to a fire, he was forced to go on stage and perform barehanded. From then on, he developed an act without the usual equipment on stage, entertaining his audience through his sleight of hand dexterity. He performed continuously, starting at the age of sixteen until he retired at the age of 59. Frikell performed across Europe, Egypt, India and in 1872 a successful appearances in the United States.
  • Charles de Vere (1843- 1931) ran a magic shop in London before touring Europe with his own show. He opened another magic shop in Paris, which he ran for over 30 years. Both De Vere's wife and daughter were also stage magicians. Julia Ferret De Vere performed as Okita and was the first occidental magician on record who performed in a Japanese style act. Clementine De Vere, their daughter, launched a stage career of her own as the "Ionia, the Goddess of Mystery." He published his book "De Vere's Book of Magic" in 1876.

  • Canada Bill Jones - (?-1880) was the nickname of William Jones, a noted confidence artist, riverboat gambler and card sharp. He has been described as "without doubt the greatest Three Card Monte sharp ever to work the boats, perhaps the greatest of them all." He joined up with George Devol, Holly Chappell and Tom Brown, working the boats. When the foursome broke up, Devol and Jones kept at it until the Civil War.

  • Jim De Barr - Jim De Barr, a former steel engraver, was a student of Compars Herrmann in the 1860s. He eventually sold his show to Robert Nickle around 1870.

  • Henry Brown - Henry "Box" Brown was a slave who escaped to the North to later become a professional magician. In 1848, Brown escaped from slavery to Philadelphia in a box. Henry "Box" Brown, would became a popular speaker at antislavery meetings. He also began traveling with a panorama entitled "Mirror of Slavery", which included a trip to England as the Civil War began. Magicians were often part of these touring shows and Brown became interested in their acts, especially in their escape tricks. After a time, Brown would add to his story of escaping slavery in a wooden crate by featuring his own escape act in which he was closed up in a large canvas sack wrapped around with a chain secured by a heavy padlock. Brown delighted crowds wherever he went by managing to free himself in minutes. As time went on, Brown featured more and more magic in his program. Eventually, he created his own show, entitled "Mesmeric Entertainments" and toured with it successfully for a quarter century. By 1875, Brown returned to the United States, billing himself as Professor H. Box Brown. He toured the Northeast with a program entitled "The African Prince's Drawing Room Entertainment." Brown's last known performance was in Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1878.[1]

  • John A. Stock - (1827-1911) toured Europe as a magician for twelve years (1848-1860) then came to tour America in 1856, settling in Cincinnati where he ran the LaFayette Mall Theatre during the Civil War.
  • George W. Stock - was a professional magician and founder of the Cincinnati Magicians Club. His professional tours featured the spiritualist Anna Eva Fay.

  • James Tully Kelsey - (1836-1917) was an amateur magician and was writing articles for various magic periodicals at the age of 80. Kelsey performed shows before the Civil War.


  • Rick Green performs as a magician of the period using the name Professor Barclay – The Wizard of Edinburgh.
  • [Max Howard]] performs as Gus Rich, The Wizard of the Blue Ridge in a tribute written called "The War Wizard".


  • The Sphinx Illusion created by Thomas Tobin was first presented by Colonel Stodare at the Egyptian Hall in October 1865 to mark his 200th performance.
  • The Indian Basket Trick was adapted by Colonel Stodare and presented at the Theatre of Mystery, Egyptian Hall in 1865.
  • Ludwig Leopold Doebler (Döbler or Dobler) (1801 - 1864) who gave up an apprenticeship in engraving to become a conjurer dies.
  • Cabinet of Proteus is invented by Thomas Tobin in 1864.
  • Giovanni Bartolomeo Bosco (1793-1863), an Italian illusionist born in Turin who became one of the greatest conjurers of the 19th century, dies.
  • Jean Nicholas Ponsin, a schoolmaster and amateur magician, dies



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