The Civil War… 150 years ago today… July 20, 1861

July 20, 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 issue (July 20, 1861) has the front page taken up with two prints on the progress of “Filling Cartridges at the U.S. Arsenal at Watertown, Mass.”, which involves a surprising number of women. There are two interesting pages with a dozen prints of “Scenes About Camp” showing some of the activities while in recreation (dancing & acrobatics!) as well as practicing for warfare. These scenes offer a different view of soldier life; one away from the battle field. I can imagine relaxing & recreation is a welcome diversion.

One print has a scene of soldiers with Hagerstown, Maryland, in the background, and a few other prints have scenes of Harper’s Ferry, just a few years after the John Brown raid.  Very impressive is the doublepage centerfold showing “The Navy Yard at Brooklyn…” which shows several massive sailing ships. And yet another print shows that not all soldiers wear the traditional garb, as “Irregular Riflemen of the Alleghanies, Virginia” are in frontier clothing. How can those involved in a fight tell the enemies from their fellow soldiers?

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

July 6, 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:

The July 6, 1861 issue has on page 4 a very nice view of: “Jefferson City, Missouri” along the river. I always look forward to finding city views in Harper’s as they offer a perspective of the cities mentioned in battle reports which, without illustrations, are difficult to comprehend in terms of size, geography & location to rivers, etc. And in the Missouri River which runs along Jefferson City are two large paddle wheelers. It would be great to ride on one someday.

Another page is taken up with a large map showing portions of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers from Jefferson City to New Orleans, and also including Florida and much of the Southeast United States. Principal cities and other rivers are noted–a terrific overview of the theater of so much military action. “Scenes of Camp and Army Life…” has 9 scenes showing just some of what soldiers do when they are not fighting.

The doublepage centerfold is very impressive, showing a “Grand Review of General McDowell’s Corps…On the South Side of the Potomac” showing simply hundreds & hundreds of soldiers at attention. And why are so many women & children in the foreground? There are several more military scenes as well, including a very nice view of “Harper’s Ferry as Evacuated by the Confederate Troops”. The Potomac runs along some very steep cliffs in this portion of Virginia.


The Civil War… 150 years ago today… June 8, 1861

June 8, 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:

The front page (of the June 8, 1861 issue) has a great print of the “Uniforms of the Fifth Regiment N.Y. Vols…” showing them in garb with very baggy trousers and interesting headgear. I never fail to be amazed at the variety of uniforms worn during the war! Had “Harper’s Weekly” never existed I would not have known of this fascinating variety. There is another nice full page on the “Zouave” soldiers, showing four scenes of “Ellsworth’s Zouaves” in camp, showing them relaxing by their tents, “Getting Rations” and “Cooking Dinner” among other scenes.

Another one of the great map is found in the centerfold, this one being simply terrific! It shows much of Eastern portion of the United States south of Baltimore including the cities of Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Raleigh Savannah and even the Florida peninsula. It is a somewhat three-dimensional rather than topographical map, showing the dramatic cliffs of the Potomac River near Harper’s Ferry. I’ll keep this map handy as I read of war events in the daily newspapers.

Many more war-related prints are inside, including a nice full page of “Sherman’s Battery of Light Artillery”. This print has a nice print of one of the cannons used in the war.

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.