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Online access to 15 Civil War stories from the pages of
Harper's Weekly: Experience military and civilian life during the
Civil War as the 500,000 readers of Harper's Weekly did…and be
sure to look at the related
news articles, illustrations, cartoons,
commentary—selected specifically for this site.

Bombardment of Fort Sumter by the Batteries of the Confederate States on April 13, 1861

The Life of a Spy - In Nine Tableaux
October 24, 1863

What's Unique About This Website?

About one-third of Harper’s Weekly consists of stories, serial novels, verse and other forms of literature. This sampler highlights 15 stories pertaining to the Civil War.
The stories have been classified under broad topical headings as shown below. In addition, relevant history and military background from news articles, illustrations, cartoons and editorials have been included to provide context for each story as the readers of that time would have been informed.
Please see the following Warning and Note about using this website…

see a list of the illustrations used in this site.

Primary Emphasis of Civil War Sampler Stories
Aspects of Military Life
In the Libey
The Scout’s Narration
The Black-Eyed Smuggler
On The Antietam
The Fourteenth at Gettysburg
Tippoo Saib
Buried Alive
Blacks as Principal Characters
Buried Alive
Little Starlight

The Devil's Frying Pan
Tippoo Saib
Little Starlight
Lula’s Letter
Divided Family Loyalties
In Charleston, December 1860
On the Kentucky Border
Emancipation Proclamation
A Letter from the Country
In the Libey
Two Days with Mosby
Guerilla Action
On the Kentucky Border
The Devil's Frying Pan
Two Days with Mosby
Women as Principal Characters
A Letter from the Country
Colonel Charley's Wife
The Black-Eyed Smuggler

Notes About Using This Website
Website visitors should be warned that several of the words, descriptions, and images from Harper’s Weekly are considered racially offensive by today’s standards. The materials are presented in order to give a true historical picture of the leading 19th century newspaper’s view of black Americans. We at HarpWeek hope this site will serve as a valuable resource which provides an important perspective on the multifaceted history of black Americans,  generates a deeper understanding and respect for the subject, and sparks further interest in its study and discussion.

Professor Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law School, a well-known scholar on the use of derogatory language in a racial and historic context, has advised HarpWeek not to censor the original content of Harper’s Weekly, even if it contains language or caricatures that may offend today’s viewers. To understand why, please read his essay
A Note on the Word "Nigger."
Story Length
All of these stories would fit on a page or less of Harper's Weekly. To help you judge a story's length, the number of column inches in Harper's Weekly is in parenthesis next to each title. One column was 14 inches and there were four columns to a page. Therefore, 28 column inches was half a page and 56 column inches was a full page.
These stories have been selected from a 31-lesson syllabus prepared for HarpWeek by Dr. Kathleen Diffley, who is Associate Professor of English at the University of Iowa. She currently is completing the second volume of a projected trilogy on Civil War stories in the popular wartime press. Supplementing her initial focus on Constitutional reform in Where My Heart Is Turning Ever, her second book examines the literary market place in the years following Appomattox when national recollection was furthered in the South and West as well as the culturally dominant Northeast. Professor Diffley’s essays on nineteenth century magazine culture have appeared in American Quarterly, Prospect, American Literary History, and Books at Iowa.

Professor Diffley utilized the HarpWeek indexes to identify the stories and related illustrations, news articles, editorials and cartoons. She found the synopses, which HarpWeek has prepared for every piece of prose, to be particularly helpful.

see a list of the illustrations used in this site.

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