Notes, caveats, and explanations

This is not intended to be an exhaustive archive of period newspaper reports. Each day is limited to roughly one thousand words.  The choice of topics was based on historical significance and/or interest (sometimes "oddity"). The intent is to provide a glimpse of American society during the war, North and South, civilian, military and naval, and to include a span of news (domestic and international) that illustrates the world as people of the time experienced it.

The project was begun as part of a larger effort to promote the sesquicentennial in southeastern Massachusetts. As such, the bulk of the reports come from New England newspapers. Once each week, a day is devoted to a Southern newspaper to provide the Confederate perspective. Until its capture by Adm. Farragut on 26 April 1862, these papers come from New Orleans, which, along with New York City, was the only place publishing on Sundays. After its fall, the rebel papers come from Georgia and Virginia. While this may seem lopsided, you will soon notice that many of the articles in northern paper come from southern papers, and vice versa.

Also, do not expect to find reports of a battle on the day it actually occurred. There is almost always a lag of at least one day and news sometimes trickles in for several days following. Footnotes are included when a story is later refuted (which happens frequently.)

You will very soon realize that, while you can easily read the English of 1860s America, understanding can sometimes be a challenge. For example, the word "apprehend" is used to mean "expect" or "anticipate," as in "We apprehend a major battle is soon to occur." And, where we today would say, "In the North," period English says "at the North."  To "allude" to something means to have actually discussed it, not merely as a reference or hint. "Black Republican" does not refer to African-Americans in the Republican party; it is a pejorative aimed at Republicans by their opponents. Also, the words "ultimo" and "instant" after a date indicate the previous and the current month, respectively. These are often abbreviated to "ult." and "inst." And "mechanics" do not work only on your car (or carriage), but put their skills to use as modern "artisans" or "craftsmen" do today in a wide variety of professions. If you run into a bind, use the email link at the bottom of the page to ask for an explanation. We will add these as footnotes as people identify them.

Lastly, the opinions expressed in these pages are those of the people of the time. We have no agenda in presenting them beyond promoting a better understanding of this turbulent time. If you are offended by, for example, a northern article on the evil southerners, read on and you will soon find a southern piece blasting the Yankees (often in a Northern newspaper).

Return to the newspaper index
Email to the USNLP