During the War – Living Room War

View item information

"Our nation's heroes," 1863. Courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

From today’s perspective, many regard Vietnam as the first "living room" war, with evening television programs bringing the latest news to kitchen tables and living rooms across America. But the Civil War was really the first. Just as we go online or watch CNN for immediate updates on the current conflict, those on the Civil War home front looked to daily newspapers and weekly magazines for current news on the war. Advances in communications, transportation, and technology enabled information to be spread more rapidly than ever before.

The press told this story with words and images by publishing cartoons, photographs and sketches. Theater of war and battle maps allowed viewers to follow troop progress. Traditional and more personal methods of communication, such as telegrams, soldiers' letters, and diaries, brought poignant accounts of war.