"The Printing Press Cannot Remain Idle": The Ohio Twenty-Second, A Civil War Soldier Newspaper

"The Printing Press Cannot Remain Idle": The Ohio Twenty-Second, A Civil War Soldier Newspaper

In their inaugural and only issue, dated July 12, 1861, the erstwhile printers of The Ohio Twenty-Second made their purpose and politics clear. “Our motto is: ‘Death to traitors and protection to all loyal citizens.’ It has been well said that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword.’ While we find the latter indispensable in these perilous times, we will unite with it the power of the former, and go forth to battle for ‘the Constitution, the Union, and the Enforcement of the Laws.”

For the men of the Twenty-Second Ohio Infantry, and indeed for many Union soldiers throughout the Civil War, the war could be waged by musket and pen alike, and soldier newspapers offered an avenue for Union soldiers to keep abreast with the wider war effort, opine on national politics, interact with the local civilian population, document their war deeds, and foster a sense of community and esprit among their ranks. The Ohio Twenty-Second offers a brief window into the patriotism, politics, and daily life of Union soldier in the opening months of the Civil War.

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Civil War Censorship: The Arrest & Imprisonment of Wheeling's Democratic Editors

Civil War Censorship: The Arrest & Imprisonment of Wheeling's Democratic Editors

On Saturday, July 9th, 1864, Captain Ewald Over of the 6th West Virginia Infantry received an order originating from Major General David Hunter. The order directed Capt. Ewald—the military commander of Wheeling, West Virginia—to arrest the editors of the Wheeling Daily Register and shut the newspaper’s offices down. At three o’clock in the afternoon, Captain Ewald and a small cadre of soldiers entered the offices of the Wheeling Daily Register and placed editors Lewis Baker and O.S. Long under arrest. A soldier was posted outside the Register’s office, and the two prisoners were escorted to Athenaeum on the corner of 16th and Market Streets. A small military prison that housed upwards of one hundred Confederate prisoners, the Athenaeum (christened “Lincoln’s Bastille” by the locals) now confined two United States citizens as well…

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War Front and Home Front, Father and Son: A Family’s Contribution to the Civil War (Part I)

War Front and Home Front, Father and Son: A Family’s Contribution to the Civil War (Part I)

Surrounded by the capitol city that has grown up around it, Ten Broeck Mansion was built in 1797-8 outside Albany, NY and remained a private home until it was presented to the Albany County Historical Association in 1948.  Although its early history remains a strong focus—to this day it retains the name of its builder and first owner, General Abraham Ten Broeck—the mansion witnessed another upheaval of American History, the Civil War.  At the time, the family of Thomas Worth Olcott owned and resided in the house.  He and his son, Dudley, both offered their service to the cause of the United States, although in entirely different ways.

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The "Derangement" and Death of Private Ludwig Salzwedel: A Suicide and Cover-Up in the Civil War

The "Derangement" and Death of Private Ludwig Salzwedel: A Suicide and Cover-Up in the Civil War

As the hot Kansas sun rose over the camp of the Ninth Wisconsin Infantry on June 17, 1862, the German immigrants who formed the bulk of the regiment were abuzz with the terrible news of last evening’s events. Rumors ran rife that a soldier in Company F killed himself during the night. And indeed, fifty-one year old Private Ludwig Salzwedel, a German immigrant to La Crosse, Wisconsin and the father of a family of five, had committed suicide that night.

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"A Very Spicy Little Sheet": The Knapsack, A Soldiers' Newspaper and the Politics of War

"A Very Spicy Little Sheet": <i>The Knapsack</i>, A Soldiers' Newspaper and the Politics of War

A Union officer once remarked, “Does not a newspaper follow a Yankee march everywhere?” In the fall of 1863, the soldiers of the Fifth West Virginia Infantry found themselves stationed at Gauley Bridge in their newly-minted home state. It proved to be a relatively peaceful posting and, apparently true to Yankee form, the men promptly set about establishing a regimental newspaper. Forming the rather grandly named Fifth Virginia Publishing Association, the Association soon began issuing copies of the four-page Knapsack every Thursday morning at five cents a copy. Although only published for a few months, the paper illuminates much about soldier life and the politics of war.

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"In Their Own Country:" The Curious Case of the 8th Virginia, Antietam, and Home

"In Their Own Country:" The Curious Case of the 8th Virginia, Antietam, and Home

September 17th, 1862 would captivate the nation; indeed, the fighting along Antietam Creek in rural Maryland may have been the most important day of the American Civil War. Yet one regiment of the Union Army was instead focused on what was happening on a small river in western Virginia.

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Prisoners Among the Pines: Texas' Camp Ford

Prisoners Among the Pines: Texas' Camp Ford

During the Civil War, hundreds of thousands of young men found themselves prisoners of war, their fates in the hands of the enemy. For those lucky enough, parole or exchange awaited. Yet most men faced the grim reality of harsh prison camps. Some Civil War prisons were so infamous their names are still notorious today: places like Andersonville, Elmira, Libby Prison, and Point Lookout. Yet perhaps their names perhaps overshadow the fact that over 150 prison camps existed during the war.

Tucked away among the piney woods of East Texas rests a small historic park in Tyler, Texas. The park's humble appearance today belies the magnitude of the place it commemorates. Camp Ford constituted the largest Confederate-run prisoner-of-war camp west of the Mississippi River, housing some 5,550 Union soldiers over the course of the war's final years.

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Righteous or Riotous? The 2nd Ohio Cavalry and The Crisis

Righteous or Riotous? The 2nd Ohio Cavalry and The Crisis

As the snow fell from a wintry sky on March 5, 1863, over a hundred men gathered on the fields of Camp Chase, outside Columbus, Ohio, ostensibly for the purposes of attending church.  For a “church party,” however, they were oddly equipped, armed with “clubs, hatchets, and axes.” Once the men—soldiers of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry—had assembled at their “appointed rendezvous,” they formed up into a line and made their way onto Columbus. The soldiers had been planning this foray for some time, knowing that Sunday church offered them the perfect excuse to enter town and commence their mischief.

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Roundtable: The Civil War's Most Influential Event

Roundtable:  The Civil War's Most Influential Event

In Civil Discourse's first ever roundtable question, we asked five of our writers a classic, yet undeniably important, question:  what event most influenced the outcome of the Civil War?  Our authors diverse answers (and non-answers!) may surprise you!

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The Unfortunate Case of David O. Dodd: "Arkansas' Boy Martyr" or Fool?

The Unfortunate Case of David O. Dodd:  "Arkansas' Boy Martyr" or Fool?

Young David O. Dodd hung on the end of a rope in the yards of his alma mater, St. Johns’ College.  His death was not a merciful one, as the rope stretched and nearly five minutes passed before Dodd finally passed away.  Convicted of spying on occupation forces in Little Rock, Arkansas, David had been sentenced to death by Union forces.  The date was January 8, 1864, and David Dodd was only seventeen years old.

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History on the Honeymoon: Chincoteague in the Civil War

History on the Honeymoon: Chincoteague in the Civil War

The cemetery was almost unnoticeable from the road.  Because it is on a dune very close to the water separating the island from Chincoteague, the water and shifting sand had obliterated all essence of an established cemetery.  Most of the grave markings were gone, replaced by official looking plaques marking the location of graves.  It certainly did not look like a Civil War cemetery.  But there was one Civil War-style headstone marked by an American Flag with the words “Thos. Watson, Co. A, Loyal Eastern VA. Vol.” 

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Caught in the Crossfire: Civilians at Fredericksburg

Caught in the Crossfire: Civilians at Fredericksburg

In December 1862, the city of Fredericksburg found itself in the crossfire of the armies of Lee and Burnside.  For several months that summer, residents were forced to deal with the indignities and inconveniences of living in an occupied city.  Now the Union army was back once more and this time General Robert E. Lee and his army were in place to contest their presence.  With armies on either side of it, Fredericksburg braced itself for the storm.

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"Yankee Candy Would Choke Me": Fredericksburg Occupied!!

"Yankee Candy Would Choke Me": Fredericksburg Occupied!!

On April 18, 1862 it was the Union army that came into Fredericksburg.  That Good Friday morning the Confederates left town, burning the bridges over the Rappahannock River, making way for the Federals to arrive that afternoon.  Mayor Montgomery Slaughter and a delegation from the town surrendered Fredericksburg on April 19 under the agreement that local citizens and private property would not be harmed.  Union soldiers under General Irvin McDowell built bridges, crossed on May 2, and settled on the outskirts of town for a four month stay.

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Memorable Days: The Costs of War through the Eyes of a Free Black Woman

Memorable Days: The Costs of War through the Eyes of a Free Black Woman

1863, as we have noted, was a memorable year for Emilie Davis. A free black woman living in Philadelphia, Emilie celebrated the Emancipation Proclamation, twin Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and steps toward lasting change as northern states like Maryland chose to end slavery voluntarily. But 1863 was also a year of devastation for Emilie, one in which she would witness the deterioration of her family as a direct result of the new rights that came along with the Emancipation Proclamation.

This is the third installment of Memorable Days: the Civil War through the eyes of a free black woman. To read an introduction of Emilie, click here. To read her take on the Battle of Gettysburg, click here.

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Not Who, But How: Civil War Loyalty

Not Who, But How: Civil War Loyalty

At the root of any civil war lays loyalty. Internal conflicts, fought over everything from politics to religion, produce deep divisions amongst a nation’s populace. America’s Civil War was no exception, as it witnessed divisions along geographic, social, political, and racial lines. Not only did the war divide former countrymen, but these divisions were something that Americans talked extensively about throughout the war. As historian William Blair recently noted, in the Civil War North it is almost impossible to find a newspaper that did not discuss treason or loyalty in nearly every issue. Along with extensive discussion about loyalty and treason in local newspapers, these conversations carried over into the personal correspondences of contemporary men and women. I, like many other historians, have studied the issue of wartime loyalty, yet my research takes that subject in a different direction.

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Memorable Days: The Battle of Gettysburg through the Eyes of a Free Black Woman

Memorable Days:  The Battle of Gettysburg through the Eyes of a Free Black Woman

Gettysburg. If someone can name a single Civil War battle, it is most likely the only major battle that occurred north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Many argue that this three day ordeal in 1863 was the culminating point of America’s most destructive war, the moment that turned the tide against Robert E. Lee’s legendary Army of Northern Virginia and began the uphill struggle towards reunion and a new birth of freedom. But Emilie Davis, a free African-American woman living in Philadelphia during the war, never names this small Pennsylvania town in her diary chronicling the monumental year of 1863.

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Memorable Days: The Civil War through the Eyes of a Free Black Woman

Memorable Days:  The Civil War through the Eyes of a Free Black Woman

Emilie Davis was a young twenty-something black woman living in the city of Philadelphia during the Civil War. Like many her age, she worried about school, employment, family and friends. Her activities did not make headlines, and her name is unlikely to appear in a textbook. Yet her story is important because it is the story of a cross-section of society previously unexplored. Moreover, Emilie’s story is everyone’s story, a narrative of a woman on the rise, confronting the daily realities of a nation at war at a personal level defined by relationships, experiences, and often the seemingly mundane.

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