Secesh Eradicator (IL, ca.1860s)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication: Unknown, but edited by the Eighty-fifth Illinois Regiment

Frequency:  Unknown

Volume and Issue Data: Unknown

Size and Format: Unknown

Editor/Publisher:  “Bayonette” for the Eighty-fifth Illinois Regiment

Title Changes and Continuation:  Unknown

General Description and Notes:

Wiley notes that “soldiers sometimes wrote out small papers for limited distribution. Examples of manuscripts sheets are the ‘Pioneer Banner,’ published ‘semi-occasionally for the young ladies of the Union Female College’ by young Confederates stationed at Fort Barrancas, and the ‘Secesh Eradicator’ edited by ‘Bayonette’ for the Eighty-fifth Illinois Regiment” (p. 161).

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  Bell Irvin Wiley, They Who Fought Here (NY:  Bonanza Books, 1959), p. 161

Locations:  Unknown


Note:  Thanks to the late Dr. Richard “Dick” Lentz (Ph.D., Iowa) for alerting me to Wiley’s book and the handwritten newspapers mentioned therein.

San Luis Coyote (CA, 1850)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication: Mission San Luis Rey, California (1850)

Frequency:  One issue?

Volume and Issue Data:  Sept. 1850

Size and Format:  Unknown

Editor/Publisher:  “C. Senor,” a U.S. officer stationed near Mission San Luis Rey

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description and Notes:


Information Sources:

Bibliography: None

Locations:  Cu-B?

The Right Flanker (NY, 1863-1864)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Fort-La-Fayette, Union Prison Camp at the Narrows of New York Bay, New York

Frequency:  Unknown; possibly weekly

Volume and Issue Data:  1863-1864

Size and Format:  Pen and ink

Editor/Publisher:  Unknown; Confederate officers

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description and Notes:

The Right Flanker is the only known manuscript newspaper published by Confederate prisoners confined in the North during the Civil War.  The paper was written in pen and ink, and after its staff was released, copies were taken to England and printed in book form (1865).

The introductory issue said the purpose of the paper was “to relieve the monotony of prison life, by calling into action the taste and faculties of those who are capable of contributing to its columns; instructing and amusing those who cannot, and to furnish to all who are to share the spice of excitement, which the risk of such a contraband undertaking affords, something of which it is hoped, reference can be pleasantly made by them in after years.”  The editors then introduced themselves and their personal histories prior to imprisonment, but used no names, apparently to avoid punishment for the production of “contraband.”

The printed “transcript” of The Right Flanker runs 90 pages, but it unclear how faithful the printed version is to the handwritten originals.

The printed version depicts a paper devoted largely to an analysis of the war (based on New York newspaper reports), life in the prison camp, and the arrival of new prisoners.  Humor or light features are infrequent.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  “Fort-La-Fayette Life, 1863-1864:  In extracts from the ‘Right Flanker,’ a manuscript sheet circulating among the Southern Prisoners in Fort-La-Fayette,” The Magazine of History, Extra No. 13, 197-246.

Locations:  Fort-La-Fayette Life, 1863-1864:  In extracts from the “Right Flanker,” a manuscript sheet circulating among the Southern Prisoners in Fort-La-Fayette (London:  Simpkin, Marshall and Co., 1865; New York:  William Abbatt, 1911) [reprinted in The Magazine of History, Extra No. 13]

Rapidann (VA, 1864)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Somewhere in Virginia

Frequency: One known extant copy

Volume and Issue Data:  January 1, 1864

Size and Format:  1 sheet

Editor/Publisher:  Unknown

Title Changes and Continuation: Unknown

General Description and Notes:

Handwritten newspaper (1 sheet) created by a Confederate soldier (probably from South Carolina) serving in Virginia. Newspaper contains articles about army life, Virginia, furloughs, and other topics as well as jokes, poems, and illustrations (from SC Hist Soc catalog)

Information Sources:

Bibliography: None

Locations:   Teague, Benjamin H. (Benjamin Hammet), 1846-1921. B.H. Teague family and collected papers, 1770-1899, Manuscript, 1105.07.09, South Carolina Historical Society, Charleston, SC

Pioneer Banner (FL, no date, ca. 1860s)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Fort Barrancas (near Pensacola, now part of the U.S. Naval Air Station), FL

Frequency:  “semi-occasionally”

Volume and Issue Data: Unknown

Size and Format:  Unknown

Editor/Publisher:  Young Confederates stationed at Fort Barrancas

Title Changes and Continuation: Unknown

General Description and Notes:

Civil war era.  Published for the young ladies of the Union Female College.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  Bell Irvin Wiley, They Who Fought Here, NY:  Bonanza Books, 1959, p. 161.  See Secesh Eradicator also.

Links: Re. Fort Barrancas

Locations:  Unknown

The Old Flag (TX, 1864)

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The Old Flag (TX, 1864)

Publication History:

Place of Publication: Camp Ford, Tyler, Smith County, Texas

Frequency:  Bi-weekly, irregular

Volume and Issue Data:  Vol. 1, No. 1, Feb. 17, 1864-No.3, March 13, 1864

Size and Format: 8 1/2 x 11; four pages per issue; three columns; pen and ink

Editor/Publisher:  Capt. William H. May (and J.P. Robens?); a 12-page facsimile edition was published by J.P. Robens and William H. May entitled, The Old Flag: First Publication by Union Prisoners at Camp Ford, Tyler, Texas, V. 1, No. 1-3; Feb. 17-March 13, 1864: Preface includes history of the manuscript plus some items and advertisements from the Ford City Herald

Title Changes and Continuation:  Some references to advertisements from the Ford City Herald  in the Library of Virginia’s Civil War 150 Legacy Project (thanks to Renee M. Savits, of the CW 150 Legacy Project). According to the Herald, “This branch of our imense (sic) establishment is now complete. The new Type and Materials of The Herald, in addition to the well stocked Office of the “OLD FLAG,” removed and refitted, enables us to give notice that we are fully prepared to execute all kinds of Plain and Fancy Job Printing with neatness and dispatch. Terms, CASH.”

General Description and Notes:

The Old Flag was published by a Union soldier during an imprisonment of 13 months in the Confederate prison at Tyler, Texas.  Each issue was read aloud in the various cabins by some member of the “Mess.”  When all had read or heard it read, the paper was returned by the “subscriber” to the “office publication.”

The paper’s primary goal was to relieve the almost unbearably eventless and monotonous life of Camp Ford.  Contributions commented on local news and camp issues, displayed poetry and art, and played with satire, jokes and chess problems.  Advertisements, which appeared in every issue, were genuine.  Most offered the services of skilled prisoners for the benefit of the others.  For example, pipe makers, barbers, cigar makers, shoe shines and “job printing” (by the editor) were all available in the prison city.

The Old Flag (TX, 1864)

The Old Flag was one of two and possibly three handwritten Civil War newspapers published at Camp Ford, a Confederate prison complex in Tyler and Hempstead, Texas.  Camp Ford was the largest Confederate military prison in Texas.  The prison held both officers and enlisted men from 1863 to the end of war.  The prison held as many as 4,900 prisoners by July 1864.  Living conditions in the tented enclosure were generally good.  Fresh water, adequate shelter and plentiful food supplies made the prison a relatively healthy place; during its 21-month existence, roughly 250 soldiers died in the camp.  Most soldiers were allowed to keep many of their possessions, to manufacture items for sale and to purchase food and supplies from local farmers and merchants.[1]  To facilitate these economic transactions, The Old Flag published a “REVIEW OF THE TEXAS MARKET-for the Month of February, 1864” in its March 1 edition.

Capt. William H. May, of the 23rd Connecticut Volunteers, with the assistance of other Union soldiers, published and edited at least three issues of The Old Flag between February 17 and March 13, 1864,[2] during their 13-month confinement in the Confederate prison camp.  According to J.P. Robens, one of the prisoners, the paper was published on sheets of “unruled letter paper, in imitation of print, a steel pen being employed in the absence of a Hoe Press.”[3]  The three-column, four-page paper made liberal use of large headlines and graphic elements.

The paper’s primary goal was “to contribute as far as possible towards enlivening the monotonous, and at times almost unbearably eventless life of Camp Ford–and to cultivate a mutual good feeling between all.”  Contributions were solicited on matters of local news and camp issues.  The Old Flag published poetry and art, and included satire, jokes and chess problems.  Display advertisements appeared in every issue, and “most of them bona fide, genuine.”  Most of the ads promoted the services of skilled prisoners for the benefit of the others.  For example, pipe makers, barbers, cigar makers, shoe shines and “job printing” (by the editor) were all available in the prison city.[4]


Summary of Contents of The Old Flag, 1:1, February 17, 1864

(Measured in column inches; 33 column inches per page)



The Old Flag (TX, 1864)

The first number announced that the next issue would be in “an entire new dress, we having received new Types from the Foundry of J. Connor & Son, of N.Y.!  This number is printed with ‘secesh’ ink, which does not appear to ‘take’ well upon Yankee paper.”[5]  Only one copy was published of each number, which was then read aloud in the various cabins by some member of the “Mess.”  When all the prisoners had read or heard it read, the paper was returned by the “Subscriber” to the “Office of Publication.”[6]

In the third number, March 15, 1864, the editor published his intentions to preserve The Old Flag after his release from Camp Ford.


We shall make it our first object on our arrival at New York City–which will probably be within a few week after our Exchange–to learn the practicability of getting the three numbers of the “Old Flag” Lithographed.  Should the expense be too great to warrant our adopting this means of securing fac simile [sic] copies, we shall print with types as nearly as similar to the letter penned by us as can be procured, with heading and illustrations engraved.  We shall endeavor to make the copies close imitations of the original papers.  In addition we propose to publish a few accurate pictures, delineating life at Camp Ford, Camp Groce, &c, printed on sheets inserted in each number of the “Old Flag” with a Title Page, and complete List of the Officers Prisoners [sic] at this place, neatly bound.

The editor kept his promise.  The lithographed reproduction of The Old Flag was published in New York in 1864 and included a “List of officers, prisoners of war at Camp Ford . . . giving rank, regiment, where and when captured.”

After prisoners were released from Camp Ford, the editor published a lithographed reproduction of the handwritten.

According to Mary Witkowski, of the Bridgeport Public Library, Bridgeport, CT, Captain May was a newspaper man in civilian life.

Information Sources:                                                         

The Old Flag (TX, 1864)

Bibliography:  Roy Alden Atwood, “Captive Audiences: Handwritten Prisoner-of-War Newspapers of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition and the War Between the States,” Annual Convention of the American Journalism Historians Association (AJHA), Salt Lake City, UT, Oct. 1993;  F. Lee Lawrence and Robert W. Glover, Camp Ford, C.S.A.:  The Story of Union Prisoners in Texas(Austin:  Texas Civil War Centennial Advisory Committee, 1964), 36-37;  The Old Flag (privately published, 1914).

Locations:  Barnum Museum, Bridgeport, CT; The Old Flag, lithographed reproduction:  DLC

[1].  Patricia L. Faust, editor, Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War, p. 110.

[2].  The date on The Old Flag, 1:3, isMarch 13, 1864, but a poem on p. 3, “To Mrs. Col R.T.P. Allen,” is dated March 14.  The poem was likely a day-late insertion.

[3].  J.P. Robens, “Preface,” The Old Flag, lithograph reproduction (New York:  W.H. May, [1864]), n.p.

[4].  The Old Flag, 1:3 (March 13, 1864), p. 2:  “Statistic–There have been manufactured by knife in this camp, since last September, over forty setts [sic]of Chessmen, of which Lt. John Woodward has himself completed eight of the best!

“The number of Pipes turned out, as near as can be arrived at, is not less than Five Hundred–both of wood and clay.”

[5].  The Old Flag, 1:1 (Feb. 17, 1864), p. 2.

[6].  J.P. Robens, “Preface,” n.p.

Little Joker (TX, 1866-1869)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication: Jacksboro, Texas

Frequency:  Unknown

Volume and Issue Data:  Published sometime between 1866 and 1869.

Size and Format:  On foolscap

Editor/Publisher:  H.H. McConnell

Title Changes and Continuation:  Same editor/publisher produced the BIG INJUN at Fort Belknap,Texas and THE GRASSHOPPER at Fort Buffalo, Texas.

General Description and Notes:

According to Whisenhunt, the Jacksboro area had no fewer than four newspapers between 1866 and 1869, although only one was printed.  The editor of all four was H.H. McConnell, a soldier first assigned to Jacksboro, Texas in 1866.  McConnell recounts his journalistic efforts and military experience on the Texas frontier in the Reconstruction period in his autobiography, Five Years a Cavalryman.

Shortly after he arrived in Jacksboro, McConnell and other soldiers published a weekly newspaper, LITTLE JOKER, on foolscap.  The paper circulated among the soldiers at Jacksboro.  The Jacksboro post was temporarily abandoned by the military, and the LITTLE JOKER “was ignominiously packed on a Quartermaster’s house and moved to Fort Belknap.”

At Fort Belknap soon issued another handwritten paper, BIG INJUN, intended for a military audience.  According to McConnell, “Here the genius of the editor again broke forth, and the ‘Big Injun’ for a time shed an undying lustre on the literature of the nineteenth century.”  The paper was short-lived:  “Like a meteor flashing along the midnight sky–brilliant for a moment, then rendering the darkness more intense–so the ‘Big Injun’ ran its course.”

McConnell’s transfer to nearby Fort Buffalo Springs marked the publication of his third handwritten, THE GRASSHOPPER.  Like its predecessors, THE GRASSHOPPER was short-lived.  Fort Buffalo Springs was soon abandoned for the more strategic Jacksboro post.

McConnell was finally reassigned to Fort Richardson where he contracted with a Weatherford,Tex.printer to publish The Flea.  This, his first printed newspaper, appeared Feb. 1, 1869, but lasted only six issues, until June 15, 1869.

According the Whisenut, McConnell’s handwritten papers did little more than provide diversion for the soldiers at their respective military posts, but “this was important.  Their very existence also implies that the life of the frontier soldier was mostly a monotonous existence despite the legend and aura of romance that surrounds the United States Cavalry.”

Information Sources:                   

Bibliography:  H.H. McConnell, Five Years a Cavalryman (Jacksboro, Texas:  J.N. Rogers and Co., 1889), p. 174; Donald W. Whisenhunt, “The Frontier Newspaper:  A Guide to Society and Culture,” Journalism Quarterly, 45:4 (Winter 1968), 727; see also Theronne Thompson, “Fort Buffalo Springs, Texas, Border Post,” West Texas Historical Association Yearbook, 36:168 (October 1960).

Location:  None

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