We continue our weekly feature of reflecting upon the appropriate 150 year old issue of “Harper’s Weekly ” from the perspective of a subscriber in 1861:
“The daily papers today give evidence of what everyone feared: war has begun. Events in Charleston harbor reached a breaking point as both the North and the South claimed the military installations there. But our “Harper’s Weekly” is about two weeks late with reports which I understand is due to the complexity of providing accurate illustrations of the events, certainly a small price to pay for the great benefit of “seeing” the war scenes. I look forward to the end of the month and seeing just what transpired at Charleston.
In the meantime today’s issue has a scene of Point Isabel, Texas, a town apparently on a cliff along the Gulf of Mexico. In the foreground troops are being transported on a paddle-wheeler. Near the back are two military scenes including a boat house at Fort Pickens, Florida, and another the inside of that fort. The cannons they use are huge and the fort’s thick walls seem impenetrable. I had not previously known what the inside of a fort looked like.
I recognize President Lincoln in one of the back page cartoons, his face and stature familiar from an earlier issue on his inauguration. In this cartoon he consults with “Columbia”, who says: “…be sure you’re right, then go ahead!” Yes, our future is in his hands.” With all of the tension in the air, I was surprised to see the double-page centerfold which included various vignettes of American Home Scenes, which seemed in stark contrast to the mood of the day.
To enjoy the images (and some of the text) from this issue, please go to: Harper’s Weekly, April 13, 1861