Civil War cards


In a discussion on the website of SamuraiFrog, I wrote: “Yeah, just the frickin’ trailer of [the Quentin Tarantino film] Kill Bill 1 put me on edge; I can only imagine how it actually plays out.” To which, somewhere, Mr. Frog asked if it was because of the violence. Well, yeah, but it’s more specific than that.

Of all the forms of fictionalized violence in movies, the type I hate the most involves people getting stabbed or, worse, run through with a bayonet or sword. And I know why.

There were these Civil War Trading Cards that came out in 1962 from Topps, the folks that made the baseball cards. I bought them because they were history, and I was interested in that, but I don’t know why – except for some bizarre sense of completeness – I KEPT buying them.

While there were soldiers shot and run over on some cards, I swear that at least a plurality of them had someone dying by being impaled by something, and the pained eyes of the soon-to-be deceased I always found haunting. The card above is a good, not great, example of this.

So even in PG-13 movie violence, I often instinctively turn away when swordplay is involved.

You know what comic book I found yucky? It was a Daredevil, somewhere in the #160s, I think, drawn and written by Frank Miller, in which Elektra stabs some guy through a seat in a movie theater; that guy, and the terrified guy next to him, had THAT look, too.

In my dorm in college, a couple guys were sword fighting once; I left right away because I was afraid that someone would accidentally spill blood.

5 thoughts on “Civil War cards”

  1. I remember these cards very well – I collected them too. They came with pink chewing gum and included various denominations of reproduction Confederate dollar bills. And the card I remember is probably the one you describe where some poor soul has fallen off his horse to be impaled on a spiked barrier. I seem to recall a rumour that some cards were rare because the censor had intervened, although this was probably a story put about by the manufacturer to encourage us to buy more packets of gum.

    They set off in me a passing interest in the Civil War and I had a small collection of military figures, including a canon that fired matchsticks!

    For some reason my sympathies were with the Confederacy, I’m not sure why. It must have been an underdog thing.

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  2. “In my dorm in college, a couple guys were sword fighting once; I left right away because I was afraid that someone would accidentally spill blood.”

    Sword-fighting in a college dorm?! That sounds completely nuts!! What did they think it was, Conan the Barbarian?!

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