"Cowardly and Incendiary Partisans": Soldier Mobs, Loyalty, and the Democratic Press in the Civil War

Lund, Stefan, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Varon, Elizabeth, Department of History, University of Virginia

Over the course of the American Civil War, newspapers in the North affiliated with the Democratic Party suffered dozens of mob attacks by Union soldiers. Soldiers broke into offices, smashed presses, threw papers and books out of windows, scattered printing type in the streets and dumped debris in nearby rivers. These soldiers were participating in a new iteration of an established tradition of mob violence against the press in America. They deemed the Democratic newspapers they attacked traitorous and invoked their right as the representatives of an aggrieved national community to suppress the papers by force. This essay examines this tradition of mob violence against the press, how the Union soldiery came to believe the Democratic press deserved such violence, and how coverage of these incidents by Democratic papers consistently excused the soldiers and tried to fix the blame on unnamed, cowardly political rivals instead.

MA (Master of Arts)
Union Army, Newspapers, Civil War Era Politics, Copperheads, Mob
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