The Franklin Mint Civil War Checker Set
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Who would have thought that two politicians born less than a year apart and in the same state would face off in America’s bloodiest war? Abraham Lincoln, arguably the United States most popular president, and Jefferson Davis, the Confederate’s most popular president, each led their nation through America’s civil war. Not everyone loved Mr. Lincoln. Five days after he led the Union to victory John Wilkes Booth fired a shot to the head marking the nation’s first presidential assassination. Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play? And Jefferson, although loyal, was not that popular. But because he was the South’s only leader he holds the most-popular title. Davis may have escaped the fate his opponent faced, but he had his own troubles after the war, spending a few years in the slam as a political prisoner.
The Franklin Mint added the checker set to complement its popular civil-war chess set. The attractive medallions were cast in pewter with corresponding blue or gray felt borders. Some historical figures overlap the chess set but the checker set does fill in some important historical figures. Most notable is the addition of the presidents.
Ulysses S. Grant
Samuel Dana Greene
William Tecumseh Sherman
Philip Henry Sheridan
David Glasgow Farragut
George Armstrong Custer
Robert E. Lee
Nathan B. Forest
John Hunt Morgan
George Edward Pickett
Lewis Addison Armistead
I picked up my set when I bought the chess set off ebay. My checker set is missing the display box and was absent a few of the biographical booklets. I kept a watch on ebay and eventually picked up the remaining ones. I can’t say what the original selling price was, but the sets are rare enough that you probably will pay a couple hundred bucks if you can find one.
Here is a bit more history courtesy of my friend Jebcc. He commented on my last blog on some important figures missing from the chess set:
I am surprised that Nathan Bedford Forrest is not a Confederate knight since he is the only American general never to lose a battle, despite his controversial post war activities. I am appalled that Beauregard is and Longstreet is not. Or even Albert Sydney Johnston would be better than Beauregard since but for an arterial leg wound that caused him to bleed out the confederacy would have won the battle of Shiloh, Ulysses S. Grant would have been retired in disgrace and the war would have either gone for at least another year or ended in a Southern victory. To leave Mclellan off the Northern pieces is harsh and Meade was a do nothing other than that Sherman, Sheridan, and Custer are right but what about Reynolds!
The checker set filled in a few gaps missing from the chess set with the addition of Forrest, Longstreet, and McClellan. It’s well-crafted and is a nice complement to the chess set. In some ways the pieces are more attractive than their chess counterparts.