Publishing in the Civil War South
Confederate Imprints in PBO | Major Bibliographies | Sources and Selected Readings
Related Online Resources
S. H. Goetzel
southern states seceded from the United States in
1860 and 1861, the Confederate
nation they formed was forced to produce on its own the
materials it had previously obtained from northern and overseas
manufacturers. Books were no exception.
Books had been largely imported into the
South prior to 1861. Once the Civil
War began, established southern publishers had to step
up their production, often putting their presses to work
on materials previously outside of their specialty. New publishers
also emerged to meet the rising demand. Both faced tremendous
challenges over the course of the war.
short-lived Confederacy produced more than 7,000 books, pamphlets,
pieces of sheet
music, pictures, and periodicals. All of the
publications produced in Confederate states not held by Union
forces are known as Confederate imprints. Numerous bibliographies published
in the mid- to late twentieth century exhaustively list these
imprints, evidencing their importance to both avid collectors
Regulations for the Army of the Confederate States
(Richmond: West & Johnston, 1864)
The first half of the Civil War represents
the pinnacle of Confederate printing. As the various states
seceded to form a new nation, and as their infant
country entered into war with the Union states, Confederate
presses churned out an astounding number of government
documents (both for the CSA and individual states)
pamphlets. However as Richard Harwell, the preeminent
scholar of Confederate imprints, points out, Confederate
publishers devoted a large proportion of energy to the “non-essentials
of everyday publishing.”
Plenty of fiction found its way to southern
bookshelves, thanks in part to a developing genre of distinctively southern
literature. Novels, poetry,
and drama poured from southern pens, and consequently southern
presses, to fill southern readers' need for entertainment.
Confederate fiction appeared in full-length book and broadside
form, particularly from the presses of West
and Johnston in Richmond. Periodicals such as Southern
Literary Messenger, The
Magnolia Weekly, Southern Field and Fireside,
and Countryman carried southern literature as well.
The Concordia : a collection of sacred
L. A. Civill & Wood,
Confederate imprints also provided southerners
with printed music,
through songbooks, sheet music, and broadside ballads.
Songsters, inexpensive collections of secular song lyrics,
were not a popular book genre in the south until after
the Civil War began. However, Confederate publishers put
out more songsters during the four years of war than they
had during the preceding four decades. The lyrics held
within the songsters, many of which were patriotic, helped
to keep up southern morale.
Rifle and Infantry Tactics
(Mobile: S. H. Goetzel, 1863)
Soldiers comprised much of the audience
for morale-boosting publications such as songsters. They
also were the target readers for military books, one of
the largest genres of Confederate publishing.
were manuals intended to help civilians make the transition
into army life. Other military publications included broadsides
(such as those calling volunteers to arms) and regimental
histories. One of the most famous military books of the
Confederate era was Gen. W. J. Hardee's Rifle
and Infantry Tactics, for which the Confederate
Congress granted Mobile, Ala. publisher
H. Goetzel a special copyright
Educational texts represented another
major genre of Confederate imprints. Nearly three-fourths
of the Confederate juvenile publications were textbooks
of some sort, including primers, spellers, and readers.
Prior to the Civil War, most school books were published
in New York, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia. Southern
schools were forced to find used copies of the popular
northern textbooks until presses in Texas, North Carolina,
Virginia, and Alabama began printing them. A majority
of these texts were reprints or adaptations of northern
texts that had been popular prior to the war, although
some publishers generated original material, usually covering
regional subjects. Houston Telegraph publisher
E. H. Cushing took the lead in producing original school
books for Texas children.
Our own school arithmetic
Greensboro, North Carolina: Sterling, Campbell
and Albright, 1863)
Another major genre
of Confederate imprints was religious publishing. Sermons,
Bibles, devotionals, hymnals, catechisms, Sunday school
books, and church periodicals represented a large portion
of Confederate publishing.
were one of the few northern products allowed into the
South, but not until the later years
of war. During the Bible trade ban, some Bibles were brought
through blockades from England, and others were printed
by southern publishers. The Nashville-based Southwestern
Publishing House printed the first and only complete
Bible (both Old and New Testaments) in the Confederacy in
1861. Later efforts at publishing southern Bibles were thwarted
hampered publishing throughout the South as the war went
The same Union trade bans and European
blockades that prevented the South from obtaining books
from outside of the region also precluded the importation
of raw materials such as paper, ink, and leather that publishers
required. Printers advertised for southerners to send in
rags and items such as old ledgers and cashbooks for the
production of paper. In the absence of fresh printing paper,
clever publishers often printed more ephemeral pieces,
such as broadsides and periodicals, on wallpaper or coarse
New Testament of our Lord and Saviour
(Augusta, Georgia: Confederate States
Bible Society, 1862)
Bookmakers often bound books in wallpaper
as well, in the absence of leather. Ink makers sprung
up across the south, particularly in Georgia, but could
not meet the demand of all the South's publishers. Eventually,
Union troops destroyed many of the manufacturing plants
the South did have, leaving those southern publishers
that survived without raw materials.
Publishers faced other problems as well.
As more and more southern men joined the Confederate
army, printers faced personnel shortages. Wartime destruction
caused transportation and communication problems that
printers' abilities to receive information
or disseminate their products. These obstacles finally proved
insurmountable to Confederate publishers, and the production
of Confederate imprints came to a grinding halt before the
official dissolution of the Confederacy.
Fortunately, despite looting, building
destruction, and the more urgent concerns that plagued
the minds of southerners during the final years of the
war and Reconstruction, many Confederate imprints remain
to this day in libraries, archives, and the homes of diligent
collectors. These extant materials provide a record not
only of Civil War life and literature but also of the determination
and resourcefulness of Confederate publishers.
Searching the Collection for Confederate Imprints
Click here to search the PBO Database for Confederate imprints.
Crandall, Marjorie Lyle. Confederate
Imprints: A Checklist Based Principally on the Collection
of the Boston Athenaeum. Boston: The Boston Atheneaum,
Harwell, Richard. Confederate belles-lettres,
a bibliography and a finding list of the fiction, poetry,
drama, songsters, and miscellaneous literature published
in the Confederate States of America. Hattiesburg
, Miss.: The Book Farm, 1941.
Harwell, Richard. The Confederate Hundred; A Bibliophilic Selection of Confederate Books. Urbana , Ill. : Beta Phi Mu, 1964.
Harwell, Richard. Confederate Imprints. Wendell,
N.C.: Broadfoot's Bookmark, 1982.
Harwell, Richard. Cornerstones of Confederate Collecting. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press for the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 1953.
Harwell, Richard. In Tall Cotton:
The 200 Most Important Confederate Books. Austin:
Jenkins Pub. Co., 1978.
Harwell, Richard. More Confederate Imprints. Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1957.
Parrish, T. Michael and Robert M. Willingham. Confederate
Imprints: A Bibliography of Southern Publications from
Secession to Surrender. Austin, TX : Jenkins Publishing
Rudolph, E. L. Confederate Broadside
Verse: A Bibliography and Finding List of Confederate
broadside ballads and songs. New Braunfels, Texas:
Book Farm, 1950.
Sources and Selected Readings
Abel, E. Lawrence. Confederate Sheet
Music. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2004.
Albright, James W. “Books Made in Dixie.” Southern
Historical Society Papers 3 (September 1916): 57-60.
Bell, Robert. S.H. Goetzel, publisher:
Mobile, Alabama, 1875-1865. San Francisco: Book
Club of California, 1969.
Daniel, W. Harrison. “Bible Publication
and Procurement in the Confederacy.” The Journal of
Southern History 24, 2 (1958): 191-201.
Davis, O. L., Jr. “E. H. Cushing: Textbooks in Confederate Texas.” Library Chronicle of the University of Texas 8, 2 (1966): 46-50.
Detlefsen, Ellen Gay. “Printing in the Confederacy, 1861-1865: A Southern Industry in Wartime.” PhD Dissertation, Columbia U. , 1975.
Harwell, Richard. “The Cause that Refreshes:
Reading, ‘Riting, and Rebellion.” College and Research
Libraries, July 1959, 281-288.
Heartman, Charles F. What Constitutes
a Confederate imprint? Preliminary Suggestions for Bibliographers
and Catalogers. Hattiesburg, Miss.: The Book Farm,
Hoogerwerf, Frank W. Confederate Sheet-music
Imprints. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Institute for Studies
in American Music, Conservatory of Music, Brooklyn College
of the City University of New York, 1984.
Hummel, Jr., Ray O. Southeastern Broadsides before 1877. Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1971.
Kennerly, Sarah Law. "Confederate
juvenile imprints: Children's Books and Literature Published
in the Confederate States of America, 1861-1866." PhD
Dissertation, University of Michigan, 1956.
London , Lawrence F. “Confederate Literature and its Publishers,” in Joseph Sitterson, ed., Studies in Southern History. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1957.
Schultz, Kirsten Marelle. “Secessia's
Song Books: The History of Confederate Songsters.” PhD
dissertation, U. of Toronto, 2002.
Willingham, Robert M., Jr. “Confederate Printing in Augusta.” Richmond County History 17, 2 (1985): 5-13.
Related Online Resources
Arkansas Civil War Imprints, University of Arkansas Libraries
Confederate Imprint Collection, Rosanna Blake Library of Confederate History, Marshall University
Confederate States of America Documents, University of Iowa Libraries
Confederate States Imprints, Boston Anthenaem
Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina