American Civil War in the News is a edited review of American Civil War related news and articles, providing collection of hand-picked 1861-1865 era history.

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Civil War Documents, Archives

Latest hand-picked Civil War news and articles.

Virginia Tech launches Civil War newspapers repository website
The American Civil War Newspapers website is now online. Under the supervision of William C. Davis, professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Science and director of programs at the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech, students have indexed the site's first journal, the Macon, Ga., Daily Telegraph for the period July 1860 to June 1865. The site is available free of charge, as one of the projects of the center to further understanding of the Civil War era. The site is located on Virginia Tech's Discovery Commons repository. Users may then search by keyword, or browse the pages either on their own or by predefined topics. Each page provides options for downloading and viewing printable digital images of the newspaper columns in which a search finds a hit.

A copy of South Carolina's withdrawal from the United States sells for $25,000 at auction
A copy of South Carolina's official withdrawal from the United States in 1860 sold at auction for $25,000. The original ordinance is located at the South Carolina Archives and History Center in Columbia, but 200 lithograph copies of the document were made at the time so each signer could have one. The State of Columbia sold 1 of these copies of the Ordinance of Secession to an undisclosed bidder by Swann Auction Galleries in New York. Swann's director of printed and manuscript Americana Rick Stattler revealed that the buyer was a South Carolina collector.

National website lists 6.3 million Union and Confederate soldiers
The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System website at was labeled an "Editor's Pick" in the July-August 2010 issue of Family Chronicle magazine. The database of 6.3 million soldiers, both Union and Confederate, is complete and came from the National Archives. It is a project of the National Park Service, therefore the nps in the site's address. In the future Civil War sailors will be added to the database.

Valuable Abraham Lincoln document found in the Hawaii State Archives   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A document that was hidden away in the Hawaii State Archives for decades has finally been explained. Abraham Lincoln signed it as part of his plan to free slaves during the Civil War. Someone found the file in a vault in 1935. They noticed Lincoln's signature, but did not know what the document was. It remained a mystery until Daniel Stowell visited the archives, realizing the date, Sept. 22, 1862, was the date Lincoln signed the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. "This document is intimately related to the end of slavery in the US. It's the beginning of the process. The order to the Secretary of State to affix the seal of the US to make official the preliminary emancipation proclamation."

World's largest American Civil War collection now online at
The world's largest online collection of Civil War materials, including pictures, slave manifests and rare letters, has just been launched by to mark the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. The collection documents the lives of 12 million individuals affected by the Civil War. It reveals the realities of the time, such as chronicling the movement of thousands of slaves to New Orleans to work in the booming cotton industry. It also sheds light on some of the women who, disgusted by slavery and desiring national unity, disguised themselves as men to saw combat.

Diary shows city divided - Civilian life during the Civil war   (Article no longer available from the original source)
On one corner was the hub of Confederate activity. Across the street, the place where Unionists held forth. And from her window Frances Peter, a supporter of the Union cause, observed and chronicled the goings-on as Lexington fell to the Confederate rebels and wrestled to come back under Union control. "July 14th, 1862: The excitement increases. Gen War has command here and martial law is stricter then ever. The Secesh [Secessionists] on the boarders of Scott and Fayette have risen, taken Pa's mill and done other damage... Sept. 18 1862: the rebels took possession of the depot & government storehouses at the edge of town but found no rolling stock."

Christie's to Auction the original copy of Lincoln's 1864 Re-Election Victory Speech
In 1864, Abraham Lincoln was surprisingly re-elected as president of a nation divided by a fierce civil war. Considered to be one of his most important wartime speeches, his 1864 victory speech is brief - only 4 pages - but filled with the thoughtful optimism that the re-election inspired in him, that the nation could survive. On Feb. 12, the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, New York's celebrated auction house, Christie's, is auctioning off the original copy of Lincoln's speech - figured to fetch up to $4 million. Read Lincoln's speech here.

Ulysses S. Grant marches south again - Or at least his archives
The University of Virginia has Thomas Jefferson, Columbia University has Alexander Hamilton. And for 40 years, Southern Illinois University had Ulysses S. Grant. But that came to an end when the Carbondale campus was forced to let go the world's largest collection of Grant papers. After a almost yearlong conflict with the school, the Ulysses S. Grant Association, which owns the material, relocated almost 100 file cabinets (300,000 items) with documents and memorabilia to Mississippi State University. No one will talk on the record about what provoked the move.

President Abraham Lincoln 1864 slavery letter may set record
A 1864 letter by Abraham Lincoln in reply to a petition to free all U.S. slave children may become the most pricy Lincoln manuscript ever sold. The letter is part of a collection of 111 lots: "Presidential and Other American Manuscripts from the Dr. Robert Small Trust". "Please tell these little people I am very glad their young hearts are so full of just ... while I have not that power to grant all they ask..." He was responding to an April 1864 petition titled "Children's petition to the President asking him to free all the little slave children in this country," by 195 boys and girls.

Volunteer opens Civil War general George H. Nye's diaries to public
Ken Skrivseth is in the middle of a huge task. He is transcribing 6 fully finished, 19th century diaries onto his computer. He is one of the people responsible for bringing the diaries of Civil War General George H. Nye to the Laurel Museum in 1998. "The intent of the transcription is to do some low-level marketing of it and have it as a sale item at the museum's gift shop, probably in pamphlet form, late this year." The general of 3 Civil War units who saw action at the Battle of Antietam, Nye and his diaries have contributed much insight into what it was like to live in Laurel.

Abraham Lincoln's paper trail
"Anyone can find a Lincoln document when it`s signed A. Lincoln. But finding his name hidden in an unrelated letter? Or recognizing his handwriting? That`s a real challenge." --- Bouncing down a country road, past cotton fields, historian John A. Lupton hunches over a steering wheel. He has been traveling for 6 days - covering 5 states and 1,400 miles - in a pursuit of anything handwritten by Abraham Lincoln, as well as files addressed to him: a frayed envelope the president addressed to a Confederate sympathizer; a faded journal entry with notes about property rights that Lincoln scribbled in the margins.

Commissary Records Now Open To Public - Civil War Commerce   (Article no longer available from the original source)
In February 1864, Partisan Ranger Captain John Hanson McNeil laid in for supplies at Harrisonburg. According to Confederate commissary records at the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, the cavalry leader picked up over 6,600 pounds of beef. The ledger records Confederate buying and selling in Harrisonburg from Oct. 1862 to Feb. 1865. Even though the historical society has possessed the ledger for a year, authorized researchers have been the only ones granted access to it. But a digital copy of the ledger is now available for public view. Archivist Dale Harter said commissary records are neglected as sources of information on the conflict.

Three Confederate General Robert E. Lee war letters net $61,000
3 letters written by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee during the Civil War sold for $61,000. The prices were far off the record $630,000 a Lee item sold for in 2002. But 2 letters from the general who ended the war with surrender in 1865 sold last year for $5,000 and $1,900. The letters were among more than 400 documents Thomas Willcox put up for auction. Estimates placed the total sales at less than $400,000. David Ellison spent $27,000 for a Lee letter that talked about using slave labor to build defenses. Cal Packard spent $100,000 - his biggest prize was original documents tied to South Carolina's secession convention in Charleston, including Pickens' copies.

Letter from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to Gen. Robert E. Lee to be sold
A handwritten letter by General Ulysses S. Grant to General Robert E. Lee on April 10, 1865, discussing terms of surrender of the Confederate Army and penned at the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, will be sold August 4-5 by Gallery 63. The letter was consigned by a Texas woman and was authenticated by the Civil War historian Shelby Foote. "This may very well be the most important document to come on the market in the last 50 years. It truly belongs in the National Archives. It was, in effect, the document that saved our great land," said Paul Brown Brown estimated the letter could bring $500,000.

Possible Original Copy Of Gettysburg Address Found
A family from Stilwell believes they have found what could be an original copy of the Gettysburg Address - found in an old trunk they bought at an estate sale. The document is old, but there's no way to tell yet if it's in the original handwriting of Abraham Lincoln. It was compared to some other Lincoln artifacts. Nadine Jarvis came to Gilcrease museum find out whether the copy they have is an original handwritten copy. Museum curator Randy Ramer examined the brittle paper, compared it to an authentic copy of the speech and to his surprise found nothing that would indicate it was not genuine.

Civil War journalism
When the Hagerstown newspaper Herald of Freedom and Torch Light published its first issue after the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 24, 1862, stories about the battle were relegated to page 2. On the front page was a love story, a legal notice and 3 war-related stories - none of which mentioned the battle. That's because the front page was dated Sept. 10, 1862 - 7 days before one of the most historic battles in American history. When Confederate troops arrived in Washington County, the editors of weekly local paper, which was pro-Union, fled to Chambersburg, Pa., suspending publication for 2 weeks.

Intern steals Lincoln death notice from U.S. archives   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A 40-year-old intern with the National Archives stole 165 Civil War documents - including the War Department's announcement of President Abraham Lincoln's death - and sold most of them on eBay. Denning McTague, who runs a Web site that sells rare books, worked at a National Archives site in the city last summer. McTague has helped officials recover most of the missing items and plans to plead guilty. The stolen Civil War-era documents include telegrams concerning the troops' weaponry. "These are pieces of American history to be preserved, not sold to the highest bidder."

USCB gets Historic Civil War Documents, incl. General Lee papers
The Univ. of South Carolina Beaufort received a collection of historic rare books and civil war documents, including a picture and signed letter from General Robert E. Lee. The Connecticut couple also donated news clippings and personal letters from a confederate Colonel Benjamin Franklin Eshleman. "Robert E. Lee had a lot of documents and wrote a lot of things, but a hand-written letter to one of his associates, Lt. Colonel Eshelman is a very special thing. It proves he was a man highly respected by Robert E. Lee." Colonel Eshelman's fragile memoirs are locked away in a safe to protect them, copies are available for anyone to read.

Rare copy of proclamation ending slavery shown
A museum unveiled a rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, a document signed in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln declaring the end of slavery in the US. The document is one of about 24 known copies to survive out of 48 that were originally printed. It was acquired on behalf of The National Constitution Center museum from a private collector. "This is one of the rarest, most valuable, most significant documents in history. With the possible exception of the Declaration of Independence, no document has had a more profound impact on the American vision of liberty."

Journalists imprisoned by Confederacy for Civil War words
For four months, reporters Albert Dean Richardson and Junius Browne, endured the hardship of being imprisoned at Libby Prison. Their imprisonment was due to the fact that the Confederate authorities who had captured the pair at Vicksburg were convinced that they and the New York Tribune's Horace Greeley were responsible for the bad impression the north had about the Confederacy. So word was spread throughout the Confederacy that these two should never be released. In Jan 1864, they were sent to Castle Thunder, in Richmond Virginia. It was used to house civilian prisoners such as Union spies and political prisoners. It was a grim place.

Historical documents stolen at alarming rate
The market in stolen historical documents has gotten so hot that federal investigators have launched an operation to retrieve what belongs to the government. The National Archives has beefed up security, with video cameras and staffers watching outside researchers who review material in its reading rooms. But the Archives and other repositories around the country have suffered a number of heists in recent years. Last September, Edward Forbes Smiley III, was sentenced to 42 months in prison for stealing 98 rare maps.

Copy of ghost amendment uncovered in North Carolina
In the days before the Civil War, Congress proposed a 13th amendment that would have prohibited Washington from meddling with slavery in states where it existed. It was one of last-ditch efforts to avert war and stem the tide of southern states seceding. The "ghost amendment" was signed by President James Buchanan and left for the new president, Abraham Lincoln, to send to governors to ratify. Abraham Lincoln did so, sending North Carolina's copy to Gov. John Ellis with a letter that didn't endorse or oppose the amendment. 145 years later, editors of Lincoln's papers discovered it among Ellis' documents.

Bargain could be a priceless 1856 letter by Abraham Lincoln
An amateur historian believes he has unearthed a priceless letter written by the former American president Abraham Lincoln – after buying it for £1 at a car boot sale. Kenneth Anderson-Jones found the dirt-encrusted framed document in a pile of bric-a-brac. When he got it home he cleaned it up to find it was a letter written in 1856 by Lincoln giving Lt Gen Ulysses S Grant total command of the U.S. army, a move that led to victory in the American Civil War. If it is found to be genuine, the letter could be worth more than £500,000, although U.S. authorities can declare it a federal document and therefore claim ownership.

Civil War diaries, photographs and documents to appear online
The goal of the Historical Documents and Records Preservation Project is to digitize photographs, documents and records of historical significance and make them accessible through the museum's site. A second element of the project is to enter genealogical data into a database which will also be accessible. They will digitally preserve and make accessible the historical documents, writings, journals, and ledgers of General Samuel Milroy, John C. Odell, and Jesse Sharp as well as the Civil War diaries of James Sharp. They will also enter 4,000 obituaries and 24,000 wills into the database.

Abraham Lincoln seeking support for slavery - Rare letter   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Letter written by President Lincoln seeks governors' support on legalizing slavery. The president remembered for abolishing slavery was willing to preserve that institution if doing so would preserve the union. It didn't work, as the half-million dead of the Civil War prove. Most of the 1861 letters didn't survive. Until now only three were known to exist. Then a Lincoln researcher stopped by the Lehigh County Historical Society to review its Lincoln-related holdings and found a fourth letter. The document, dated March 16, 1861 — less than a month before civil war broke out — was hiding in plain sight among the society's 3 million documents.

Woman claims to have historic Gettysburg Address copy
Mary Montalvo may be adding to its history - with a connection to Abraham Lincoln. She has a lithograph copy of the Gettysburg Address. She claims President Lincoln commissioned the use of the Bliss copy, the only autographed copy of his famous speech. She found an old trunk full of memorabilia in the attic of an old boarding home that has since been torn down. It included the framed copy of Gettysburg Address and some glass negatives which show Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln's personal body guard, and his slave Bob who drove the President's carriage. "So I realized now I had something."

Civil War diary reflects daily life   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Richard McWilliams was 21 years old when he joined Company B of the 98th Illinois Infantry Regiment in 1862. He was among many Richland County men to fight in the company, but what sets him apart is the journal he kept. Starting at the end of 1862 and continuing through 1865, McWilliams wrote pages of daily entries. "February 24, 1864 - Calhoun, Tenn. I spent a rather lonesome day in camp, not knowing how many of my comrades had fell in battle."

The Gettysburg Address - 10-sentence speech by Lincoln   (Article no longer available from the original source)
President Abraham Lincoln delivered 10-sentence speech in November 1863 to dedicate a cemetery on the site of the battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. Both armies lost more than 7,000 men in the three-day battle. The address has become a traditional highlight of Memorial Day programs, when America honors its war dead. "... Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war..."

List of Civil War dead found
Robert Belvin probably didn't expect to find a list of Civil War dead in the newspaper one recent morning. Granted, the newspaper was from over a century ago. The list tells where local veterans of the Civil War were buried, and was published in the Daily Times on May 28 and 29 of 1900. This list is being redistributed, so area residents can find out whether they have ancestors who fought in the Civil War. However, some cemeteries listed in the document have been displaced over the years as landowners have decided to build over them. In addition, the names of some local cemeteries have changed since the Antebellum period.