Today it is difficult to imagine not having access to the news but during the Civil War sources of news were scarce. Northern audiences kept abreast of the war through popular newspapers such as Leslie’s Illustrated and Harper’s Weekly, often enhanced by illustrations made by “Special Artists” who traveled with Union forces; the southern public relied on regional newspapers whose production was less consistent. Soldiers on both sides wrote letters and kept illustrated journals documenting battlefield scenes, as well as camp and prison camp life. Though most slaves could not read, they listened to their owners discuss the war and spread information quickly through word of mouth.
Visualizing the War
Alexander Simplot. The Great Naval Battle Opposite the City of Memphis, 1862. Chicago History Museum.