In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday on May 26, Coin
World is publishing a series of posts taking readers through coins
related to major U.S. wars.
The second post of our Memorial Day series looks at a
few coins that commemorate the Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to
1865 and was the bloodiest war in American history.
Coin World's first Memorial Day post, published Monday, highlighted coins related to
the American Revolution.
1936 Battle of Gettysburg Anniversary, 1937 Battle of Antietam
Anniversary half dollars: A pair of the most famous battles are
among the topics of commemorative coins related to the Civil
The 1936 Gettysburg 50-cent piece honors an
1863 battle that is perhaps the most well-known of the Civil War after
spawning one of the most famous presidential addresses.
Fought in Adams County, Pa., over the first three days of July 1863,
the Battle of Gettysburg resulted in 51,000 total casualties, according to the Civil War Trust.
In a battle that came after a major Confederate victory in the Battle
of Chancellorsville, Va., in May, the Union army, under the command of
George G. Meade, won at Gettysburg after holding off Pickett’s Charge
on July 3. The Confederate army was led at Gettysburg by Robert E.
Four months after the battle, President Abraham
Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, a speech that famously
defined the war and its importance to the survival of the United
The commemorative half dollar’s obverse features
portraits of a Union solider and a Confederate soldier. The reverse
contains two shields representing the two armies, separated by a
PCGS CoinFacts estimates that 23,000 of the
26,928 Battle of Gettysburg half dollars have survived. Approximately
7,900 are graded Mint State 65 or better.
example was sold for a record $48,875 during a February 2005 Heritage
The Antietam commemorative coin honored
the 75th anniversary of another of the bloodiest battles in the Civil
Around 23,000 men were killed, wounded or went
missing during the Battle of Antietam, which took place on Sept. 17,
1862, in Washington County, Md.
The battle was a draw
militarily, but was a victory in the eyes of Abraham Lincoln and the
Union, according to the Civil War Trust, because it
drove Confederate troops out of Maryland.
commemorative coin was designed by William Marks Simpson. It features
Gens. George B. McClellan and Robert E. Lee on the obverse, and the
strategically important Burnside Bridge on the reverse.
According to PCGS CoinFacts, approximately
15,000 of the 18,028 Battle of Antietam half dollars minted are still
around. Of those, about 7,500 are graded MS-65 or better.
The record auction price for a Battle of Antietam half dollar
was $26,450 realized by an MS-68 example sold by Heritage Auctions in
Other American Civil War related numismatic items include:
1922 Grant Memorial half dollar: The
50-cent piece honors the Union army’s top commander on the 100th
anniversary of his birth in Ohio.
1995 Civil War Battlefield Preservation half
dollar: The coin promotes holding onto our history with the
reverse inscription, “ENRICHING OUR FUTURE BY PRESERVING THE
2009 Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial silver
dollar: Two centuries after his birth, the president who went
to war to preserve the Union was portrayed on a commemorative coin
that featured an excerpt from his famous Gettysburg Address in
This list, of course, is far from comprehensive. Which Civil
War-related coins are we forgetting? Tell us in the comment