Portrait Gallery

Maryland Historical Magazine, December 1941

Adelbert J. Volk

One well-known Forty-Eighter is found even among the adherents of the Southern cause: Dr. Adalbert John Volck.85 His house in Baltimore became a rendezvous for Southern sympathizers in the earlier years of the War, and at times he offered Confederate soldiers a hiding place there. Further than that, Volck actively assisted in smuggling medical supplies into the South. Suspicion fell on him so definitely, that in 1861, at the instance of General Butler, he was for some time incarcerated in Fort McHenry.86 It was as a caricaturist that Volck gained his chief importance during the Civil War. Quite consciously he attempted to counteract the influence of the famous cartoonist on the Northern side, Thomas Nast, who also happened to be a German Forty-Eighter. Under the pseudonym, “V. Blada,” he published a series of cartoons, in which he attempted to heap ridicule on the Union, especially on President Lincoln and General Butler.87 His Cofederate War Etchings and his Sketches from the Civil War in which he shows markedly artistic gifts, were of considerable aid to the cause of the South. It was either he or his brother, the sculptor Frederic Volck, who made the famous bust of Jefferson Davis which was engraved on the ten cent stamps of the Confederacy.88 Adalbert Volck's sketch of Stonewall Jackson was very popular in the South and his portrait of Robert E. Lee hangs in the Valentine Museum in Richmond, Va. Volck continued in his love for the South to the very end of his days, displaying it also in another art at which he later tried his hand, the work of the silversmith. The last significant work he undertook in this field was a memorial shield, completed in 1909, three years before his death: “To the Women of the South—As a continual reminder ... of the splendid example of self-sacrifice, endurance and womanly virtues displayed during the war between the States.” Volck is particularly interesting because he was an exception to the vast majority of the liberal Forty-Eighters who favored the side of the North.

Photo taken at about the time of the Civil War, Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore from Adalbert Volck: The South's Answer to Thomas Nast by Frederick S. Voss - Smithsonian Studies in American Art, Autumn, 1988, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 66-87.

Adelbert J. Volck, The Maryland Germans in The Civil War by by Dieter Cunz, Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. XXXVI, December, 1941 No. 4.

Death of Dr. A. J. Volck, The Baltimore Sun, Wednesday, Mar 27, 1912, Page 16.