The Game of Secession, or Sketches of the Rebellion - an 1862 Board Game

This full-color game board from 1862 includes images of Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis and various military figures, as well as images of battle sites and editorial cartoons related to the Civil War.

board game

In The Game of Secession, or Sketches of the Rebellion, the path that players traverse is the body of a rattlesnake, divided into 135 numbered segments. Each of the segments in red, white or blue are linked to one of the images on the board, with additional instructions that provide advantages or consequences to the player who lands there, for example, "No. 23. View of Fort Lafayette - situated at the Narrows, New York harbor, where the state prisoners are confined - puts the player back to No. 11."

Directions for play, in the lower left-hand corner of the board, state:

"This Game is played with two dice or a tee-totum*, and any number may play it. Whatever number is thrown, the player must place his counter on that number, and at every throw, add the number thrown to his former one. The player that is sent from one to another, backwards or forward, is not entitled to the advantage or disadvantage of that Jump, they must remain where they are sent until their turn to throw again."

The game was printed in Philadelphia in 1862 and clearly favors the North; images associated with the Union tend to send the player forward or grant extra turns, while those associated with the Confederacy require the player to move backwards or miss a turn.

A statement at the bottom of the game board indicates it was "[e]ntered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1862, by John P. Charlten and Thos. Althrop, 82 South 4th Street Philada. in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the U. S. for the Eastern District of Penna. McFarland & Thomson, Printers, 211 Walnut St. Philada."

The Game of Secession, or Sketches of the Rebellion is one of many Civil-War-related items in the New York State Library's collections.

* A tee-totum (teetotum, T-totum) is a gambling device with four or more sides, each marked with a number or letter, and a spindle through the center so that it can be spun like a top; when it falls, the letter or number on the top indicates what the player must do.

Last Updated: February 9, 2010