Primary Sources

Happy Halloween

by fifer1863 on October 31, 2015

On October 31, 1863, Harper’s Weekly featured a cartoon by artist Henry Louis Stephens about the controversial campaign of Clement Vallandignham, a leading Peace Democrat or “Copperhead” who was running for governor of Ohio.

Copperhead Clement Vallandigham
Under the image it states:

The State Elections
Pennsylvania.  “Friend OHIO, I thought thee hadst got rid of this noxious weed, as I of mine; and yet I see an ugly Pumpkin growing upon the land.”
Ohio.  “Not upon my land, I guess!  It’s the VALLANDIGHAM PUNKIN as I’ve tossed over into my neighbor’s field, and he’s bin and tuck root, you see, among the Canady thistles!”



Clement L. Vallandigham was born July 29, 1820 in Lisbon, Ohio and died June 17, 1871 in Lebanon, Ohio.  He was a famous politician during the Civil War who was court-martialed and exiled to the Confederacy because of his Southern sympathies and outspokenness against the Federal government.  Vallandigham was elected to the Ohio state legislature in 1845 and as a member of the US House of Representatives, he was outspoken against the  policies of the Republican Party especially when it came to the topic of slavery.   He soon became the leader of a group of Midwest Democrats known as Copperheads. The Copperheads were a vocal group of Democrats who opposed the Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates.

During the Civil War he continually attacked the Lincoln administration.  He claimed that Lincoln was destroying the Constitution. In 1863 he made numerous speeches throughout Ohio against the war and the government.  This lead to him to become one of the most suspected and hated men in the North. He was arrested in May by military authorities for expressing treasonable sympathy with the enemy.  He was tried and found guilty by a military commission and sentenced to imprisonment. Soon afterward Lincoln commuted his sentence to banishment behind Confederate lines.

Vallandigham eventually made his way to Canada where he continued to attack Lincoln and the Republicans.  In September 1863 the Ohio Peace Democrats nominated him for governor. He returned illegally to Ohio in 1864 and took an active part in that year’s election campaign. He also wrote part of the national Democratic platform in which the war was denounced as a failure.

After the war Vallandigham criticized the Radical Reconstruction policy of the Republicans as both unconstitutional and tyrannical, but in 1870 he recognized the uselessness of further opposition and urged his party to emphasize financial issues instead. He died the following year after accidentally shooting himself with a firearm that was an exhibit in a murder trial.


“Clement L. Vallandigham | Biography – American Politician.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.


Library of Congress Acquires Collection of Civil War Images

The Library of Congress recently took ownership of more than 500 rare Civil War images when 87-year-old Robin Stanford delivered her stereograph images from her collection to the library.

“They’re just tremendously significant,” Bob Zeller, president of the Center for Civil War Photography, told the Washington Post. “These are not post-war … or after Union occupation. These are actual scenes of slavery in America.”

You can view the 77 of the images online now at the Library of Congress.

Here are a few of my favorites:





Merry Christmas

by fifer1863 on December 25, 2014

On January 3, 1863, Harper’s Weekly ran the following Thomas Nast image of Santa Claus visiting the Civil War Soldiers


What can you see in the picture?  There is so much to see in this photo.  From the drummer boys playing with the Jack-in-the-box to the troops chasing a pig in the background (notice one soldier falling down in the chase).

How about a little seek and find.  Can you find:

  • a drum
  • a soldier with a pipe
  • Santa’s Reindeer
  • two American Flags
  • A soldier with a stocking
  • a soldier climbing a pole

This image is fun to look at and rich in details.  I love the outfit that Santa is wearing, the soldiers in their great coats, the Sibley tents and the “Welcome Santa” sign.  According to an brief article in the paper, Santa is showing the soldiers “Jeff Davis’s future.  He is tying a cord pretty tightly around his neck, and Jeff seems to be kicking very much at such a fate.” The article also says that a group of soldiers in the background are playing football.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.


Using GIMP to Colorize Civil War Era Photos

October 14, 2014

Bringing Civil War Photos to Life with Color As you know I am a huge fan of having students use primary sources in the classroom.  This is especially true when comes to using photographs from the Library of Congress.  I have blogged about using images in the past.  I have also crated videos on finding […]

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Exploring the Rose Farm with Google Earth

July 22, 2014

I am often asked about where the Rose Woods is in Gettysburg and how others can find it when they visit.  Well, I took a few minutes and created a video showing you exactly where the Rose Woods is in Gettysburg and where you can find the famous photographs of the dead soldiers.     […]

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Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive

July 2, 2014

The Digital Library of Georgia has released the Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive online.  This is way cool to access these primary sources.  The following is a press release: The Digital Library of Georgia is pleased to announce the availability of a new online resource: The Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive. The Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive provides online […]

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Google News Archive

November 5, 2012

Here is a tool that I have been exploring and showing teachers how to use for a while now and it’s high time I shared it with you, my readers. Google news provides you with the ability to search their archives going all the way back to the late 1800s.  This is a great tool […]

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Halloween During the Civil War

October 31, 2012

Just a quick Civil War themed Halloween post for everyone to enjoy. Here is a photo from the October 26, 1861 edition of Harper’s Weekly.  It is called “Jeff Davis, Reaping the Harvest” and shows Confederate President Jefferson Davis standing in a field gathering crops with skulls on top of them.   If you check […]

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Teaching the Civil War Podcast Episode 26 – Welcome Back

August 10, 2012

      Thanks for staying subscribed to my podcast and I hope you enjoy listening. In this episode I am talking about computer troubles, conference travels, and finding primary sources from the Kansas Historical Society and their Kansas Memory Project. Feedback on the show? email me at Follow Me on Twitter Music is by […]

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Available online document from Western Illinois University

July 11, 2012

Available online document from Western Illinois University Malpass Library of a National Union League Pledge. The Digitization Center has been making historical documents available online. The database access is free to the public. Civil War enthusiasts our library has digitized Charles Miles National Union League Pledge. It is dated February 18, 1865 (originally 1863). This […]

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Teaching the Civil War Podcast Episode 21 – The US Capital

May 3, 2012

      Thanks for staying subscribed to my podcast and I hope you enjoy listening. In this episode I share an interview with Ms. Sharon Gang who is with the US Capital Visitor Center.  Ms. Gang talks about how the Capital is remembering the Civil War. Here is a copy of their press release: […]

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Teaching the Civil War Podcast Episode 18 – Language Arts

March 30, 2012

      Thanks for staying subscribed to my podcast and I hope you enjoy listening. In this episode I discuss how you can teach the American Civil War in the Language Arts Classroom.  I also share the Sullivan Ballou letter. Here is a photo of Sullivan Ballou:   Feedback on the show? email me […]

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Teaching the Civil War Podcast Episode 16 – Using Math to Teach the Civil War

March 8, 2012

      Thanks for staying subscribed to my podcast and I hope you enjoy listening. In this episode I talk a bit about how you can use Math to teach and learn about the Civil War. Feedback on the show? email me at Follow Me on Twitter Music is by Mark Ferguson and is […]

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Teaching the Civil War Podcast Episode 9.5 – Happy Thanksgiving

November 23, 2011

      Thanks for staying subscribed to my podcast and I hope you enjoy listening. Just a short episode today to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Feedback on the show? email me at Follow Me on Twitter Music is by the Mark Ferguson and is used with permission. Subscribe in iTunes SHOW NOTES: Today […]

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Harper’s Weekly Online

November 18, 2011

Ever wonder how newspapers during Civil War covered the battles? Are your doing any research into an aspect of the Civil War and need a great primary source? Well, the Son of the South website has digitized versions of Harper’s Weekly online for your review. According to the website, they have “over 7,000 pages of […]

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Digital Historical Newspapers

May 9, 2011

While browsing my Delicious feed the other day, I came across the website and found it very interesting and thought I’d share. is providing digitized versions of newspapers from throughout history.  According the the website the “site focuses primarily on HOW news of major, and not so major, events in American history were […]

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Harriet Tubman resources from the Library of Congress

March 25, 2011

Here is a quick link to some great resources on Harriet Tubman that are available via the digital collections at the Library of Congress. These resources include items like photographs, books, and various manuscripts. The Harriet Tubman Online Resources page provides numerous links to different websites that all contain digital historical resources related to Harriet […]

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Abraham Lincoln Cartoons

February 14, 2011

I came across the following link and thought I would share: The HarpWeek website and has over 400 political cartoons on the Lincoln presidency.  You can view different people, symbols, topics, places or artists that had something to do with these cartoons.  You could easily have your students select one of the hundreds of cartoons […]

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Digital Resource Centers

January 17, 2011

There are numerous online libraries of digital archives that offer a vast array of primary sources that allow exploration and interpretation of the past. These primary sources are different however, in that they are not touched or felt but displayed on a computer screen in an electronic format (Friedman, 2005). These online libraries are often […]

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Santa Seek & Find

December 24, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS I have blogged about Christmas in the past so I thought that I would continue the tradition of showing more connections of Christmas and the Civil War. This time I am going to focus on a famous sketch of “Merry Old Santa Claus” by Thomas Nast. This sketch appeared in the January 1, […]

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