The Civil War… 150 years ago today… April 27, 1861

April 27, 2011 by  
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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:

Although there is some frustration in waiting two weeks to see the events of the conflict, the prints definitely help in understanding all that is going on.  The front page of today’s issue (April 27, 1861) shows “General Thomas Swearing In the Volunteers Called into the Service of the United States at Washington, D.C.” There is also a front page article on “The Bombardment of Fort Sumter” which provides some detail  I did  not read in the daily papers of two weeks ago. But the real drama of the skirmish comes to life with the full page print: “The Interior of Fort Sumter During the Bombardment” showing bombs exploding and being hurled through the air by the massive cannons. What a horrendous experience that must have been! The full page “Map of Charleston Harbor” shows how surprisingly small Fort Sumter seems to be, on a small island right in the middle of the harbor. I can not understand what it is a strategic installation for the protection of the city.

Then, golly, I turn to the center fold to see a terrific print showing the “Bombardment of Fort Sumter by the Batteries of the Confederate States”. It’s full of action, showing the soldiers at their positions next to the cannons and the destruction being done to Fort Sumter in the distance. This print certainly brings the event to life!

Further on is a print of Abraham Lincoln taken from a photograph by the famed photographer Matthew Brady. He looks just like the earlier images I recall from his inauguration. And a special treat is a full-figure print of  “General P. G. T Beauregard”, the Confederate commander of the forces in Charleston.

The text in this issue is interesting as well, but the prints are what keep me looking forward to next week’s edition.

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