Lot #V025. Russian-Made Civil War Hand-Painted Pewter Chessmen


Offered here is a very realistic set of Russian-made Civil War Hand-Painted Pewter Chessmen. The Kings, Ulysses S. Grant and Robeert E. Lee, stand 2.6″ tall with a 1.1″ hexagonal base. Every chess piece has “St. Petersburg NIENA” cast into their bases.  Late 20th Century.

In stock


Civil War Hand-Painted Pewter Chessmen.

Civil War Hand-Painted Pewter Chessmen

Offered here is a very realistic set of Russian-made Civil War Hand-Painted Pewter Chessmen. The Kings, Ulysses S. Grant and Robeert E. Lee, stand 2.6″ tall with a 1.1″ hexagonal base. The pieces that serve as Queens for this set are generals holding the Union and Confederate flags respectively. The Knights are represented as rearing Stallions. The Bishops and Rooks are represented by the armies’ respective Fife and Drum corps. Both Union and Confederate companies (approximately 100 men) had two musicians: 1 drummer and 1 fifer. Regimental or battalion levels had a fife and drum corps consisting of 10 fifers and 10 drummers drawn from each company by the Drum Major. The Pawns are represented by riflemen. Every chess piece has “St. Petersburg NIENA” cast into their bases and “RZAEVA” hand painted in the center.  The set is complete and in excellent condition. No chessboard is included with this set of chessmen, but a suitable board can be found here. The chess set is late 20th century.


The army did not have a formal overall military commander, or general in chief, until late in the war. The Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, himself a former U.S. Army officer and U.S. Secretary of War, served as commander-in-chief and provided the strategic direction for Confederate land and naval forces. Robert E. Lee was “charged with the conduct of military operations in the armies of the Confederacy” from March 13 to May 31, 1862. He was referred to as Davis’ military adviser but exercised broad control over the strategic and logistical aspects of the Army, a role similar in nature to the current Chief of Staff of the United States Army. On June 1, he assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia, which was considered the most important of all the Confederate field armies. Lee was formally designated general in chief by an act of Congress (January 23, 1865) and served in this capacity from January 31 to April 9, 1865

The lack of centralized control was a strategic weakness for the Confederacy, and there are only a few examples of its armies acting in concert across multiple theaters to achieve a common objective. One instance occurred in late 1862 with Lee’s invasion of Maryland, coincident with two other actions: Bragg’s invasion of Kentucky and Earl Van Dorn’s advance against Corinth, Mississippi. All three initiatives were unsuccessful, however. 

Many of the Confederacy’s senior military leaders (including Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, James Longstreet) and even President Jefferson Davis, were former U.S. Army and, in smaller numbers, U.S. Navy officers who had been opposed to, disapproved of, or were at least unenthusiastic about secession, but resigned their U.S. commissions upon hearing that their states had left the Union. They felt that they had no choice but to help defend their homes. President Abraham Lincoln was exasperated to hear of such men who professed to love their country but were willing to fight against it.

Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant.

Ulysses S. Grant was entrusted with the command of all Union armies in 1864 and relentlessly pursued the enemy during the Civil War. On April 2, Grant ordered a general assault on Lee’s entrenched depleted forces. Lee abandoned Petersburg and Richmond, while Grant’s conquering Union troops easily took Petersburg and captured Richmond the next day. A desperate Lee, and part of his army cut and ran, attempted to link up with the remnants of Joseph E. Johnston’s defeated army. Sheridan’s cavalry, however, stopped the two armies from converging, cutting them off from their supply trains. Grant was in communication with Lee before he entrusted his aide Orville Babcock to carry his last dispatch to Lee that demanded his surrender with instructions to escort him to a meeting place of Lee’s choosing. Grant immediately rode west, bypassing Lee’s army, to join Sheridan who had captured Appomattox Station, blocking Lee’s escape route. On his way, Grant received a letter sent by Lee informing him Lee would surrender his army.

On April 9, Grant and Lee met at Appomattox Court House. Upon receiving Lee’s dispatch about the proposed meeting Grant had been jubilant. Although Grant felt depressed at the fall of “a foe who had fought so long and valiantly,” he believed the Southern cause was “one of the worst for which a people ever fought.” After briefly discussing their days of old in Mexico, Grant wrote out the terms of surrender. Men and officers were to be paroled, but in addition, there was amnesty: “Each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by U.S. authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.” Lee immediately accepted Grant’s terms and signed the surrender document, without any diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy. The vanquished Lee, afterward asked Grant that his former Confederate troops keep their horses. Grant generously allowed Lee’s request. Grant ordered his troops to stop all celebration, saying the “war is over; the rebels are our countrymen again. Johnston’s Tennessee army surrendered on April 26, 1865, Richard Taylor’s Alabama army on May 4, and Kirby Smith’s Texas army on May 26, ending the war. In 1869, at age 46, Grant became the youngest president in U.S. history to that point.


Additional information

Weight8 lbs
Dimensions12 × 10 × 8 in

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