Blood and Ink: The Newseum’s just -opened exhibit of civil war newspapers

Gregg Clemmer
DC Civil War Heritage Examiner
October 4, 2011

A stunning display of more than 30 civil war newspapers recently opened at the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington. Titled and presented as "Blood and Ink," journalism’s museum features a diverging variety of wartime front pages, from Harper’s Weekly and the New York Illustrated News to the Charleston Mercury and the Atlanta Daily Intelligencer.

Headlines include news of Abraham Lincoln’s election to president, reports of the firing on Fort Sumter, accounts of the Battle of Gettysburg, the fall of Atlanta, Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, and Lincoln’s assassination in Ford’s theater.

The exhibit also conveys the challenges and perils of wartime reporting, from a Northern paper’s erroneous news of victory at First Manassas in July, 1861, to an 1863 copy of Stars and Stripes, a Union paper printed in the occupied South on wallpaper.

In the curiosity department, one paper’s front page was later used by a Union soldier as stationery for a note home to his mother. One of the most poignant is The Union Sentinal (sic), a handwritten “newspaper” on lined notepaper put together by students from Warren, Connecticut. Although Newseum staff had plenty of 1865 examples to illustrate the ratification of the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery in the newly reunited United States, they had to go all the way back to 1807 to find a newspaper featuring ads for slaves.

"Blood and Ink: Front Pages From the Civil War" is scheduled to be on view throughout 2012.

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