Communication during the Civil War

Custom Search

American Civil War:

The Civil War

Civil War Timeline

Armaments and Forts


Camp Life


Family Life


Life as a Soldier




War at Sea


Civil War Videos

Social Studies Main Index


New methods of communication were emerging at the time of the Civil War. Photography allowed people to see the war without being there on the battlefront. The telegraph allowed messages to be sent electrically over telegraph wires. This was much faster and more reliable than sending messages by horse messenger. Other means of communication, such as signal towers, provided communication over short distances.

On this page:


Top of Page

Civil War Photographer
(Source: Library of Congress)
Photography was relatively new at the time of the Civil War. Cameras were much larger than they are today. Taking pictures was a slow and complex process.
Camera Wagon
Photographer Sam A. Cooley with Camera and Wagon
(Source: Library of Congress)

Traveling to locations with this large camera was not a easy task.

Photographers would often follow armies into battle to get pictures of the battle scene. These included both newspaper and Army photographers. These photographers would travel by horse and wagon to different locations. This picture shows the wagons and camera of Sam A. Cooley, Department of the South.


Newspapers and Artist Sketches

Top of Page

Newspaper Reporters covering the Civil War
(Source: Library of Congress)
Newspaper reporters traveled by horse and wagon to cover the war. Stories of the war were sent back to their newspaper to be published.
Newspaper Stand
Newspaper Vendor and Cart in an Army Camp
(Source: Library of Congress)
Newspapers not only took news of the war back to the rest of the country, but also brought news from home to the soldiers. This picture shows a newspaper vendor and cart selling newspapers in a camp.
Sketch artist
Artist Sketching Picture of Battlefield
(Source: Library of Congress)
Prior to photography, artists would sketch pictures of battlefield. This picture shows Alfred R. Wood, an artist of Harper's Weekly, sketching on the battlefield.


Telegraph and Signal Towers

Top of Page

Telegraph Office
Telegraph Operators during the Civil War
(Source: Library of Congress)
The telegraph was emerging as a means of sending messages from one location to another electronically. Telegraph corps followed troops and erected telegraph poles and wires to provide communication from the battle front. This photograph shows a group of military telegraph operators. Poles carrying the telegraph wires can be seen leading into the distance.
Signal Tower
Signal Tower used during the Civil War
(Source: Library of Congress)
Tall signal towers were used to send messages short distances. This photograph shows the Butler's signal tower, Bermuda Hundred, Virginia.
Signal Balloon
Observation Balloon during the Civil War
(Source: Library of Congress)
Airplanes were not yet invented at the time of the Civil War. That didn't stop armies from getting high off the ground to see what the enemy was doing. Observation balloons in the sky were used to report on troop movements and battles.


Books on the Civil War

Top of Page

  Books on the Civil War


Links to other sites on the Civil War

Top of Page

For a daily history lesson see AccentHistory.net http://www.accenthistory.net
American Civil War http://www.civilwar.com/
Civil War http://www.civil-war.net/
The Civil War on PBS http://www.pbs.org/civilwar/

Top of Page

Copyright © 1998-2012 Kidport