Very little is known about the background of these two engravings by N. Orr.
Did they come from source sketches? Were the sources from life? Lt. Sprague met John Horse during his service in Florida. Presumably, for his history
the lieutenant would have wanted an image of the black warrior that was true to his own memory,
but even this can not be confirmed.
Notably, neither engraving is a caricature. Both faithfully depict the
humanity of the rebel warrior, albeit in his less controversial, post-war role as an interpreter for the U.S. Army. Depicting John Horse as an individual, the images are far removed from the crude type specimens and racial caricatures that were prevalent in so many antebellum images of rebel blacks. Moreover, John Horse was a Southern black, depicted in a Southern setting. For these reasons alone, despite the crudeness of the engravings, these are rather remarkable images from American history.
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