Civil War Field Printing

Civil War Field Printing

The ability to communicate quickly in wartime can profoundly affect military actions and outcomes. The invention of portable tabletop printing presses at the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865) allowed for better communication in the field. Portable presses were purchased by several Union and Confederate military units. They allowed for the rapid production and wide distribution of urgent orders, and also routine documents such as requisitions and entertaining material such as unit newsletters. Albert Adams’ New York cylinder press, the Cottage press, was advertised to the armed forces and to merchants. This press, along with at least three other similar inventions, became particularly popular during the War. The use of portable printing presses expanded after the War and a movement of amateur printers was born.

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