"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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