This is a woodcut from an envelope of Union-themed stationary. It refers to the comet seen just at the start of the Civil War. It was easily visible in the D. C. area, and many of the soldier diary and letter collections from 1861 mention seeing it from camp, or on patrol.
It seems like the Union is headed for some more rough times in this century. The paycheck I get on October 1 will be smaller due to salary cuts. It is all pretty worrisome, but reading about the past helps me put things into perspective.
This is not the first bad time, and not the last. At least in this century we know where our soldiers are, and remains can be identified. No one will ever have to wait for over four years to find out if Billy or Johnny would march home. Still, things seem ominous.