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…Read More
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.Read More
The descriptions of him are priceless. “He looked the image of a bantam rooster or a gamecock,” recalled a veteran. Perhaps it was his odd dress: “He wore a large sombrero hat, without plume, cocked on one side, and decorated with a division badge; he had a hunting-shirt of gray…while he wore boots, his trousers cover them; those boots were as small as a woman’s.” Or perhaps he was just plain odd, “the sauciest-looking manikin imaginable” and “the oddest and daintiest little specimen.” His five-foot stature and frail 125 pound frame didn’t help.
William "Billy" Mahone was a genuine character, and his life was as unique as his stature. Although a rising star in the Army of Northern Virginia by the end of the war, his post-war political career in the darkness of Reconstruction and Redemption is perhaps his true shining moment. “Bantam” Billy Mahone revealed his character not only as a fighter on the battlefield, but as a progressive on the political stage.Read More
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.Read More