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Another interesting Civil War tidbit


Thought I’d pass on another interesting fact from the book, More Civil War Curiosities by Webb Garrison.

It seems publisher, Erastus Beadle considered common soldiers who spent weeks in camp, as a vast new market. With the help of “editor Orville J. Victor, he printed and distributed enormous quantities of dime novels about such characters as Dick Turpin and Red Rover.”

The paperbacks of today owe their lineage to the Civil War “yellow backs” as they were called.



  1. I imagine having these stories helped pass the time especially if the soldiers were injured.

  2. Caroline Clemmons says:

    Susan, what an interesting post. I had no idea those books were distributed in the Civil War. I know that one man in my husband’s family has letters an ancestor wrote to his sister begging her to send him books and paper. He said the books would help pass the time and that there was no source for paper to use for letters. One of his letters was writtin across and then turned 90 degrees and written the other way to make use of every little space of paper.

  3. Very interesting post, Susan! I can’t even imagine not having books and paper and something to write with!

  4. Susan,
    I didn’t know that. I’m impressed that the soldiers had something to read. That was considerate. And the stories became so popular.

  5. Susan,
    Your post really humanizes what we already know about camp life. I’m glad some soldiers were able to escape their surroundings – at least for a little while.

  6. Thanks for all the comments! This book has so many interesting facts! A lot of things I never realized myself. I knew soldiers wrote letters and wrote posts in personal journals, but didn’t know about books being distributed to the men to pass their time. They had a lot of downtime between battles, resulting in a lot of boredom and homesickness. It’s a real help to know these obscure facts if you’re writing in the period too, it really does humanize your characters.

    I’ll post another fact from the book in a couple of weeks. Just have to choose among so many. LOL.

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