The Civil War… November 2, 1861…

November 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

This week we continue with the our reflection upon the Civil War events of 150 years ago… as seen through the eyes of the original readers of the Harper’s Weekly issue printed for November 2, 1861.

Note:  The following commentary was written by Dr. James Robertson* as part of a weekly review for the reprint edition of the “Harper’s Weekly” which was done at the 100th anniversary of the Civil War.  It provides much insight into the events of the day and scholarly commentary on both the illustrations and reporting found in the original 1861 newspaper.

* The Virginia Tech website provides the credentials of Dr. James Roberson:

“One of the most distinguished names in Civil War history, Dr. Robertson was Executive Director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission and worked with Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson in marking the war’s 100th anniversary.  Today his Civil War Era course at Virginia Tech, which attracts 300 students per semester, is the largest of its kind in the nation.
The Danville, Va., native is the author or editor of more than 20 books that include such award-winning studies as “Civil War! America Becomes One Nation”, “General A.P. Hill”, and “Soldiers Blue and Gray”. His massive biography of Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson won eight national awards and was used as the base for the Ted Turner/Warner Bros. mega-movie, “Gods and Generals”. Robertson was chief historical consultant for the film.”

The Civil War… October 26, 1861…

October 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

This week we continue with the our reflection upon the Civil War events of 150 years ago… as seen through the eyes of the original readers of the Harper’s Weekly issue printed for October 26, 1861.

Note:  The following commentary was written by Dr. James Robertson* as part of a weekly review for the reprint edition of the “Harper’s Weekly” which was done at the 100th anniversary of the Civil War.  It provides much insight into the events of the day and scholarly commentary on both the illustrations and reporting found in the original 1861 newspaper.

* The Virginia Tech website provides the credentials of Dr. James Roberson:

“One of the most distinguished names in Civil War history, Dr. Robertson was Executive Director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission and worked with Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson in marking the war’s 100th anniversary.  Today his Civil War Era course at Virginia Tech, which attracts 300 students per semester, is the largest of its kind in the nation.
The Danville, Va., native is the author or editor of more than 20 books that include such award-winning studies as “Civil War! America Becomes One Nation”, “General A.P. Hill”, and “Soldiers Blue and Gray”. His massive biography of Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson won eight national awards and was used as the base for the Ted Turner/Warner Bros. mega-movie, “Gods and Generals”. Robertson was chief historical consultant for the film.”

The Civil War… October 19, 1861…

October 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

This week we continue with the our reflection upon the Civil War events of 150 years ago… as seen through the eyes of the original readers of the Harper’s Weekly issue printed for October 19, 1861.

Note:  The following commentary was written by Dr. James Robertson* as part of a weekly review for the reprint edition of the “Harper’s Weekly” which was done at the 100th anniversary of the Civil War.  It provides much insight into the events of the day and scholarly commentary on both the illustrations and reporting found in the original 1861 newspaper.

* The Virginia Tech website provides the credentials of Dr. James Roberson:

“One of the most distinguished names in Civil War history, Dr. Robertson was Executive Director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission and worked with Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson in marking the war’s 100th anniversary.  Today his Civil War Era course at Virginia Tech, which attracts 300 students per semester, is the largest of its kind in the nation.
The Danville, Va., native is the author or editor of more than 20 books that include such award-winning studies as “Civil War! America Becomes One Nation”, “General A.P. Hill”, and “Soldiers Blue and Gray”. His massive biography of Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson won eight national awards and was used as the base for the Ted Turner/Warner Bros. mega-movie, “Gods and Generals”. Robertson was chief historical consultant for the film.”

The Civil War… 150 years ago today… August 24, 1861

August 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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:

I am intrigued by the front page print of my August 24, 1861 issue: “Presentation of Prince Napoleon by Sec. Seward to the President” as it portrays Abraham Lincoln as a very tall, lean man. I know he is tall, but I think this print is not to proportion based on other prints of him I have seen.  Elsewhere in the issue is a nice full page of: “General McClellan & His Staff” plus a very dramatic print of a: “Splendid Charge of U.S. Cavalry at the Battle of Dug Spring, Missouri” .

I am intrigued by the print of “Scenes in the Brooklyn Navy Yard”, as among the 7 prints is one of a large gunboat under construction. What a massive undertaking! Other prints in this issue include “Camp Warren, Burlington, Iowa…”, a dramatic double page print of a naval battle: “The U.S. Frigate St. Lawrence Sinking the Privateer Petrel At Sea”, plus I was surprised to see a nice print of: “The Rebel General Lee”, the first time I ever saw a print of this famous Confederate general.

The Civil War… 150 years ago today… August 17, 1861

August 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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:

This week’s edition (for August 17, 1861) has more prints of some  leading officers in the war, including Generals McDowell & Mansfield, and Flag Officer Stringham and Col. Blair. Sometimes war-related prints include prints of famous places I’ve never seen, such as the print of Boston soldiers marching off to war, in front of the famous Faneuil Hall. There are some follow-up prints concerning the Battle of Bull Run, including a print of “A Fire Zouave Relating His Experience of the Battle of Bull Run in the Street at Washington.” Their uniforms are fascinating.

Speaking of uniforms the doublepage centerfold is a great display of 23 different types of uniforms worn by the Confederate Army–an interesting array of costumes! There is an interesting full page print of a: “Stampede of Slaves From Hampton to Fortress Monroe”, but the most sickening print I’ve seen this far is a full page of: “The Rebels Bayoneting Our Wounded on the Battlefield at Bull Run”. Such brutality!

The Civil War… 150 years ago today… June 1, 1861

June 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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:

Today’s edition, June 1, 1861, has a great illustration of “Major-General Benjamin F. Butler” and a biography of him. After reading so much about him–and other military officers–it’s very nice to see prints of them. Butler appears to be an older man than I would have suspected.

A full page print of the “Cabinet of the Confederate States at Montgomery” includes familiar & unfamiliar names, although if this war drags on much longer I suspect all will be familiar to us in the North. Included are their President, Jefferson Davis, and Vice President Stephens.

A print of a well fortified “Fort Pulaski” in the Savannah River of Georgia is supplemented by a drawing of one of the ten inch guns within the fort–simply huge! I can only imagine the destructive power  it must create.  The centerfold has several prints including “The Military Occupation of Baltimore” showing an encampment at Federal Hill, plus a print of the “City of Montgomery Alabama” showing slaves cultivating in the foreground with the skyline just beyond the river. The capitol of the Confederacy must be the imposing building on the left. There is also an inset of “The White House at Montgomery”, a much smaller residence than the White House in Washington.

Another print shows the Patent Office in Washington turned into a bunkhouse for troops from Rhode Island, rifles stacked at the end of the bunks. Another print shows: “Drumming out Albany Volunteers who Refused to Take the Oath”. As the article reads they are: “…stripped of their arms, a white feather stuck over each ear (because they are chicken?), & they were marched out of the  Armory grounds with the drums playing the Rogue’s March. Crowds of people assembled to see them undergo the degrading penance.” There is also a nice print of the armory at Albany. What an imposing sight, almost castle-like.

The Civil War… 150 years ago today… May 11, 1861

May 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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:

Today’s May 11, 1861 edition has nice prints of two soldiers. In seeing other prints of those involved in the war, I’m struck by the variety of uniforms–or lack of them–among many. The only common apparel seems to be the hat, and even those show some variety as well. I would have suspected all Union soldiers would be dressed alike.

The recent action at Harper’s Ferry is portrayed in three prints, one showing a view of the town. I always enjoy seeing town views. Another print shows the town of Annapolis, Maryland, where the famed ship “Constitution” is docked, shown in the foreground.

The dramatic print in this issue is certainly the double page at the center, showing the “Destruction of the United States Navy Yard at Norfolk…By fire…” and also the “Destruction of the United States Ships at Norfolk…”. What a blaze! Two more prints show soldiers marching off to the war, one shows them marching right onto the ship ‘James Adger’. I wonder if they know what the are in for?

Included also is a nice print of Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Penna., showing troops in parade formation, and I am a bit surprised by the full page of 4 scenes of “Fortifications Thrown up to Protect the U.S. Arsenal at St. Louis, Missouri”. I wouldn’t have guessed war preparations were necessary in the West.

The Civil War… 150 years ago today… April 6, 1861

April 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

With the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War just days away, we begin today a weekly feature of reflecting upon the appropriate 150 year old issue of “Harper’s Weekly” from the perspective of a subscriber in 1861.

The success of “Harper’s Weekly” was in presenting illustrations of the war, as visual presentations–today commonplace in almost all forms of media–were almost unknown in the mid-19th century. The subscriber in 1861 could now “see” rather than just read about the battles and the famous names who lead the war effort. We hope to share with our blog readers that novel experience and how those in 1861  would have reacted as they opened their issue of “Harper’s Weekly” .

I always look forward to my “Harper’s Weekly‘ issue in the mail as this new type of newspaper provides the graphics of everyday life which my daily newspapers don’t provide. What a treat it is to see what is happening rather than just read about events of the day!

Today I received the April 6, 1861 issue, and as per usual, the prints were outstanding.  The front page is a nice illustration of the “Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State” about whom I’ve heard much as a key member of the new Lincoln Administration. He looks much younger than his 60 years the article mentions. Other prints inside provide military scenes concerning the inevitable crisis between the North and South, with a print of Fort Pickens in Florida, another of Pensacola Harbor, a nice doublepage spread of various “Virginia Sketches” one showing the huge Richmond Armory & another the frigate Merrimac–a mammoth ship which would be a formidable foe in any naval conflict. A full page is taken up with the “Coats of Arms of the Several States of the Union” which make a fascinating display with their various themes and mottoes. How many will still be part of our Union if war breaks out?

With rumblings of war noted in the daily newspapers I suspect more war-themed prints will find their way into my future editions of “Harper’s Weekly“.  I look forward to the illustrations which will put a “face” on the news reports.

To enjoy the images (and some of the text) from this issue, please go to:  Harper’s Weekly, April 6, 1861

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