Photo Of The Day

Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington. Photograph from the main eastern theater of war, Meade in Virginia, August-November 1863.

Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington.
Photograph from the main eastern theater of war, Meade in Virginia, August-November 1863.

Communication during the American Civil War

 A newspaper Vendor posing with Union soldiers reading his wares in an Army Camp in Virginia during the Civil War, 1863.

Photographers would often follow armies into battle to get pictures of the battle scene. These included both newspaper and Army photographers. These photographers would travel by horse and wagon to different locations.

The telegraph allowed messages to be sent electrically over telegraph wires. This was much faster and more reliable than sending messages by horse messenger. Other means of communication, such as signal towers, provided communication over short distances.

Newspaper reporters travelled by horse and wagon to cover the war. Stories of the war were sent back to their newspaper to be published. Newspapers not only took news of the war back to the rest of the country, but also brought news from home to the soldiers.

Photography allowed people to see what was going on the battlefield without being there at the time. Though, the process was very long and tedious. Photographers had to carry all of their equipment onto the battlefield by wagon.

The process to take a photograph was very complicated. First, the photographer had to make a chemical mixture for the camera called collodion by hand, and collodion contained many harmful acids. Then, the mixture was applied to the glass plate, put in a darkroom and covered with silver nitrate, and then the plate was put onto the camera and then the photographer uncovered the plate for 2-3 seconds, which imprinted the picture onto the glass.

Pictures and Sketches were also used to send messages, prior to cameras, artists were sent out by different newspapers to go and sketch the battlefield. The artists then took their pictures back to the newspaper, where they were published.

Writing Letters was another medium people used; people sent letters from wherever they were to who they wanted. Many soldiers wrote letters to their family and how they felt about the war. The letters were then mailed to the designated person.

Sometimes, people even wrote diary entries to themselves to help them remember what happened, when it happened, and what they were doing when it happened.

The Telegraph was probably the most important form of exchanging information; the first electric telegraph was made in 1835 by Samuel Morse. The electric telegraph sent electric signals through wires to the destination, and once the signal was sent, the other person had to read the message through dots and dashes – which was part of the Morse Code. As armies moved around, they set up signal towers so that they could send messages to different places.

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