John Rogers’s The Wounded Scout, a Friend in the Swamp

Meet the Artists of Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture

A sculpture of two men

John Rogers, The Wounded Scout, a Friend in the Swamp, 1864, painted plaster, 22 1/8 x 11 1/8 x 8 1/4 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Rogers and son, 1882.1.5, Photo by Mildred Baldwin.

About this Artwork

Rogers created plaster sculptures designed for a wide audience; however, his hard-hitting subjects confronting slavery were most popular within the abolitionist community. The Frémonts owned a version of this sculpture as part of a small art collection devoted to the abolition of slavery and the promotion of California as a free state. The Wounded Scout shows a fugitive slave assisting a wounded soldier. The copperhead snake coiled at his feet is a symbol of anti–Civil War Democrats who advocated an immediate settlement with the Confederacy and, in some cases, undermined the Union. This was among the artist’s most popular Civil War subjects; Rogers sent a copy of The Wounded Scout to President Abraham Lincoln.