23 June 1861: “Last night we travelled through lines of outposts, over danger-haunted bridges, by camps where the soldiers watched eagerly for their supply of bread…”

Item description: Final entry, 23 June 1861, in a series of war dispatches written by Sir William Howard Russell (a British reporter writing for The London Times). Written as letters from various places in the South from April 30 to June 23, 1861, Russell’s reports were later published as Pictures of Southern Life, Social, Political, and Military. His writings offer a unique perspective of the American Civil War from a foreign observer of the war.

[Click here to read the full text of this book online, via the Open Content Alliance.]

Item citation: From Pictures of Southern Life, Social, Political, and Military by Sir William Howard Russell, catalog #5300 (Southern Pamphlets), Rare Book Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

More about William Howard Russell:

Sir William Howard Russell is best known as a war correspondent, having covered several important nineteenth-century conflicts for The London Times newspaper. Russell’s first major assignment was to cover the Crimean War, his letters from which caused a sensation in Britain. He was also a correspondent in India during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, in the United States during the Civil War, and during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, and the Franco-German War of 1870-71, in South Africa in 1879, and in Egypt in 1883.

In March 1861, with war in the United States imminent, The London Times sent Russell to write about the crisis. A pro-Union abolitionist, Russell was initially trusted by Northern politicians, journalists and the general public. However, after he wrote about the disorderly Union retreat following the first battle of Bull Run (21 July 1861), public opinion of Russell changed dramatically. Following this incident he was nicknamed “Bull Run Russell,” vilified, his life was threatened, and he was forbidden to accompany the Federal army.

[Read more about Sir William Howard Russell at the website, “Mr. Lincoln’s White House.”]

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