Back to Exhibition

Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon of Philadelphia

A lively Philadelphia view drawn by one of the city's most prominent lithographic artists. James Queen was a native Philadelphian who was apprenticed as a lithographer to the firm of Lehman & Duval in 1835, when he was just 15. He stayed with the firm for as long as it remained open, mastering his craft so well that he became Duval's principal draftsman. During the Civil War, when artists were in short supply, Duval wrote to a friend: "James Queen is still with us and is now one of the best artists in the country." This print is a wonderful example of his work.

In the Civil War, large numbers of soldiers passed through Philadelphia on their way south. Troops from the northeast were ferried across the Delaware River to the foot of Washington Avenue, whence they marched to the depot of the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad. There they boarded trains that took them across Gray's Ferry and south towards the war. A local grocer, Barzilai S. Brown, conceived the notion of an organized volunteer group to provide encouragement and sustenance for the soldiers on their brief transit through Philadelphia. His idea led to the opening of the Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon, which was located at the southwest corner of Swanson and Washington Avenues. Here the troops were furnished with washing facilities, food, and the opportunity of writing letters home, which were then stamped for free.

This bright and lively scene shows one group of troops just disembarked and marching towards the saloon. Another group of soldiers, suitably fed and encouraged, is depicted boarding a railroad carriage. These troops are accompanied by a uniformed marching band and enthusiastically cheered by a throng of spectators. Beneath the image is listed a roster of people connected with the organization. These volunteers had much to be proud of, for by the time the Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon was closed in 1865, nearly 900,000 men had passed through and received a warm Philadelphia welcome. – Donald Cresswell

Source: Donald Cresswell, The Philadelphia Print Shop

Link to the website:

Record Details

Title: Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon of Philadelphia


J. Queen, De. & Lith., T. Sinclair's, Lith. 311 Chestnur St., Phila.

Text on Poster: "The following gentlemen have kindly consented to receive contributions for the Union Volunteer Refreshment Committee, foot of Washington Street."( lists alphabethically)

Also lists Committee members.

View full details.
Back to Exhibition