The Civil War… 150 years ago today… May 18, 1861

May 18, 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 May 18, 1861 issue shows a ship of the Confederacy, the ‘Lady Davis, two guns…”, which is almost comical. It appears to be nothing more than an over-sized tug boat with two cannons mounted on the deck. Is this what their Navy is like? This war can’t last long.

Two other full page prints shows the great variety in uniforms among the Union forces, one of “Col. Ellsworth’s New York Zouaves” and the other “Col. Wm. Wilson & His Staff”. I also like the print of “The Battery  or Park Promenade at Charleston…during the Bombardment of Fort Sumter”, showing part of the town. There is also a print showing Fort Pickens in Pensacola harbor. It appears to look much like Fort Sumter further to the north. Two smaller prints show Camp Dennison near Lancaster, Pa. I wasn’t aware there was an installation there.

I’m intrigued by the print of “The Long Bridge Leading Across the Potomac from Washington to Virginia…”. The Potomac seems to be a very wide river, and I’ve never seen such a long bridge!