Civil War Newspapers

Newspapers in the Civil War Era

Newspapers provided vital news to troops about what actually was happening in the Civil War. There were plenty of rumors picked up from other soldiers, but it was good to get solid information.

 

civil war newspaper

1863 newspaper (photo by Virginia Allain)

For the wives and parents back home, the newspaper was eagerly read searching for news about war activities that affected their loved one in the service.

I’ve provided links to Civil War newspapers online, articles about journalists and publishing and included fascinating images from the Civil War era.

Selling Newspapers to the Troops in the Civil War

Remember that at this time in American history, there were no phones, no radios, no television, no Internet, so news traveled by word-of-mouth or by the printed page (the newspaper).

1863 newspaper vendor at Virginia camp.

Civil War Newspapers Online – for your reading and research

If you’re researching the Civil War, you’ll love this indexed newspaper files. You can enlarge them to read online.

Books That Reprint Civil War Newspapers – or tell the stories behind collecting the news during the war

 

 Fighting Words: An Illustrated History Of Newspaper Accounts Of The Civil War WAR NEWS: Blue & Gray in Black & White: Newspapers in the Civil War Civil War Newspaper Maps: A Historical Atlas Fanatics and Fire-eaters: Newspapers and the Coming of the Civil War (The History of Communication) The Moving Appeal: Mr. McClanahan, Mrs. Dill, and the Civil War’s Great Newspaper Run Witness to the Civil War: First-Hand Accounts from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper The New York Times: Complete Civil War, 1861-1865 (Book & CD)

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Civil War newspaper greatly enlarged for an exhibit at Gettysburg. Further down the page, you’ll see an original page of this same newspaper that we had framed for my father.

Read Civil War Newspapers Online

andersonville newspaper

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper with sketches of emaciated Andersonville prisoners.

What You Might Find in the Old Newspapers

I found a newspaper online from December 1864 that described the Andersonville prisoners being paroled and taken onto the steamer, New York, for transport to Maryland. This is the right time for my ancestor’s release from Andersonville, so I read the full-page article with him in mind.

There were heart-wrenching sketches with the story that showed the emaciated prisoners on the deck of the steamship. One of those could have been my great-great grandfather.

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Clyde Martin with his original, framed newspaper featuring Lincoln’s assassination.

My father was thrilled one Christmas to receive a framed newspaper about Lincoln’s death. He had long been a collector of books about Abraham Lincoln. It was an interest that dated back to his childhood when he read a biography that made a big impression on him.

The family went together to purchase the newspaper and get it framed so it could be viewed both front and back. He loved this addition to his Lincoln collection.

Although the issue shows its age of over 150 years, it is a treasure to be preserved.

Background Information on Newspapers, Journalism and Printing – during the Civil War

I found the description interesting of how a story was collected in the field, then sent by telegraph. Because the telegraph lines were frequently cut by opposing troops, it was quite difficult to get stories to the papers in a timely fashion.

Make Copies of Information You Find Online

You may think it sufficient to bookmark a site that relates to your ancestor. Alas, the Internet shifts, changes, and sites can disappear.

I recommend saving a screen shot on your computer or using a clipping app like Evernote. Even that isn’t enough insurance. What if your computer crashes. Go one step further and print a paper copy to keep.

Last year I’d found a great website about Belgians in the Civil War. It included half a dozen men who were in my great-great grandfather’s company and several were in Andersonville with him. The profiles on this site were most informative and probably written from the pension files of these individuals.

I made a few notes and saved a link, thinking I could always go back for more details later. Unfortunately the profiles are now gone from online. If I want that information, I’ll need to order their pension records. That’s an expense I wasn’t planning on, so I’m really regretting that I didn’t print all that information when I first found it.

Henri Devillez served in Company G, 93rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry with my ancestor. In 2012, I visited his grave in Leopold, Indiana.

Henri Devillez served in Company G, 93rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry with my ancestor. In 2012, I visited his grave in Leopold, Indiana.

I’ve included a few notes about him and other enlisted men of Company G on a web page where I was stockpiling links. From now on, I’m also printing out all that I find.

Online Sites to Search

I gave a talk at the genealogy club I belong to. My topic included online sites for searching for a Civil War ancestor.

You’ll want to go first to the Soldiers and Sailors Database at the National Park Service. It includes a database of Civil War prisoner information for sites like Andersonville and others. I recommend printing out any information that you find online. Sometimes sites or databases disappear.

To order Civil War pension records, try this site.

As you know much genealogy information is only available online through subscription sites. For military records, I hear many recommendations for fold3. I haven’t tried it yet, but probably need to quit stalling and give it a whirl.

Sorting Out Your Research on a Civil War Ancestor

I’ve been reading widely on the Civil War, attempting to fill in the gaps about my ancestor’s experience during those harrowing times. To keep track of what I find and to share it with others, I’m curating the information and resources on small web pages on Squidoo. The site is free to use.

So far I’ve made 36 Squidoo lenses (their term for web pages) about Abraham Bates Tower and various aspects of the War Between the States. My topics range from What Was in a Civil War Soldier’s Backpack to A Civil War Christmas. I’ll share my links here in case you are needing any of these topics.

Civil War Topics by Virginia Allain

Civil War Topics by Virginia Allain