Special Report

Civil War Artifacts in the Smithsonian

The museum collections house many items from the Civil War, including photographs, uniforms and personal diaries

Lincoln's Top Hat (National Museum of American History)

Blockade Run Cover, National Postal Museum

Blockade run cover
(National Postal Museum)

“On April 19, 1861, President Lincoln proclaimed the blockade of the Southern coasts,” says historian Trish Kaufman. “Stretching from Virginia to Texas, the blockaded area encompassed over 3,500 miles of coastline and nearly 200 harbors and river openings. This cut off the import of goods by the mostly agricultural South from the industrial North and from Europe. Mail and goods were covertly sent via vessels that ran the blockade. Many people were cut off from communication with family, friends and businesses; this was one of the ways they had a chance to correspond. The conveyance of mail in this manner was an extremely dangerous proposition.”

by Jesse Rhodes


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