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Patriotism in Print: Soldiers’ Newspapers in Civil War W.Va. Explored

Photo Provided Historian Zac Cowsert will present “Patriotism in Print: Soldiers’ Newspapers in Civil War West Virginia” at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16, at West Virginia Independence Hall.

WHEELING — A special presentation next week will shed light on soldier-run Union newspapers that were established during the Civil War across the state of West Virginia.

Historian Zac Cowsert will present “Patriotism in Print: Soldiers’ Newspapers in Civil War West Virginia” at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16, at West Virginia Independence Hall.

This talk is being presented through a partnership between the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation and the Ohio County Public Library;s programs.

A Union officer once remarked, “Does not a newspaper follow a Yankee march everywhere?” During the Civil War, tens of thousands of Union soldiers marched across, fought for and garrisoned West Virginia. Apparently true to Yankee form, nearly a dozen soldier-run camp newspapers were established throughout the war across West Virginia. These Union regimental newspapers provide glimpses into soldiers’ motivations and experiences in Civil War West Virginia. Soldiers espoused their patriotism and denounced the Confederacy. They monitored military developments and participated in Northern politics. They detailed the sundry experiences of camp life: baking bread, holding sermons and mourning the loss of friends.

The presentation will illuminate these newspapers’ political, military and cultural themes, shedding light on how Union soldiers in West Virginia participated in and recorded their place within the wider American Civil War.

Cowsert holds a PhD in 19th-century United States history from West Virginia University, where he also received his master’s degree. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Centenary College of Louisiana. His dissertation explored the Civil War in Indian Territory (modern Oklahoma). His work has been published in North Louisiana History, the Chronicles of Oklahoma and Hallowed Ground. He is a regular presenter at academic conferences, historic sites and Civil War roundtables. Outside of academia, Cowsert spent numerous summers working for the National Park Service at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park in Virginia. He is the co-editor of “Civil Discourse” (www.civildiscourse-historyblog.com), a popular blog of the Civil War era.

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