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The Yankee. [volume] : (Lewisburg, Va. [W. Va.]) 1862-18??
Place of publication:
Lewisburg, Va. [W. Va.]
Geographic coverage:
  • Lewisburg, Greenbrier, West Virginia  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Watt, Frye, Oldham, Sykes, Raymond
Dates of publication:
  • May 29, 1862-
  • English
  • Lewisburg (W. Va.)--Newspapers.
  • West Virginia--Lewisburg.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01213960
  • 44th Regiment Ohio Vol. Inf.
sn 85059662
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The Yankee. [volume] May 29, 1862 , Image 1


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The Yankee

In May 1862, 1,600 Union soldiers under Colonel George Crook occupied Lewisburg, a small town nestled in the Greenbrier Valley of western Virginia. Determined to drive the invader back, on May 23, 2,200 men under Confederate General Henry Heth launched a surprise assault on Crook's position. Though Heth enjoyed superior numbers, his men possessed little combat experience, and they were repulsed by their veteran Federal foes. In the days following the battle, reveling in their victory, a group of Ohio soldiers confiscated the printing press of the former Greenbrier Weekly Era and managed to produce the Yankee. Though local history holds that two issues were published, only the May 29, 1862 issue survives. It provides a compelling glimpse into the political attitudes of the recently victorious Union occupiers.

The editors of the Yankee (simply listed as "Watt, Frye, Oldham, Sykes, and Raymond") almost certainly came from the ranks of the 44th Ohio Infantry. While the editors didn't consider themselves "yankees," as they confessed, "It would be impossible, however, to convince the denizens of this delightful valley, that we are not yankees; so we assume the name, and thus avoid controversy." Embracing a jaunty tone throughout their columns, the editors submitted "'The Yankee' as a candidate for newspaperial renown" to both local citizens and fellow soldiers.

Many of the Yankee's columns addressed the nature of the war and were clearly designed to sway the minds of local civilian readers. Although the United States military worked strenuously to protect Southern civilians' property and rights in the war's first year, Federal soldiers increasingly advocated harsher measures against their Confederate foes. As the Yankee's editors opined, "The 'milk and water' policy that was pursued last summer was found ineffectual and is to be abandoned. A citizen who refuses to take the oath of allegiance to the United States government is an enemy of it, and we are here to suppress these enemies … It is a military necessity that you shall take sides." Along with placing greater demands for loyalty upon local citizenry, the Ohioans also favored harboring enslaved persons who fled to Union lines.

Beyond their addresses to local western Virginians, the editors also wrote to their fellow comrades in arms. Articles emphasized the importance of drill and advised soldiers on how best to sight their rifles when aiming at targets of varying distance. The Yankee shared the latest war news to arrive via telegraph, including the Union victory at Corinth. The editors also printed reports on the recent Battle of Lewisburg, and they mocked the leadership of Confederate Generals Harry Heth and John Floyd.

On the very day the Yankee hit Lewisburg's streets, the Union army withdrew from the town. As the Yankee was "to be published every time the proprietors get a chance at a printing office," leaving Lewisburg meant the loss of printing facilities and an end to the Yankee.

Provided by: West Virginia University