Indexing the Urbana Citizen & Gazette

I recently completed one of my most gratifying indexing projects in tackling the Urbana Citizen & Gazette. This newspaper, the Republican organ of Champaign County edited by Joshua Saxton, proved to be one of the best newspapers in the state for its frequent publication of soldiers’ correspondence. The Champaign County Public Library recently made available its issues of the C&G online in a format similar to one used on Chronicling America; while the scans in some cases are not nearly as crisp as what I’ve grown used to on Chronicling America, they were mostly clear enough to transcribe and the sheer expanse of issues available (the entire Civil War period is available online) makes this resource a tremendous boon for devotees of soldiers’ correspondence.

Champaign County had a total of three newspapers titles during the Civil War era: the Republican Urbana Citizen & Gazette, the Democratic-leaning Urbana Union, and the Urbana Free Press which ran through early 1862.  As I had previously indexed the Urbana Union several years ago (see Columbian Arsenal Press research page here:, this only leaves the Free Press which is available on microfilm in the Local History room of the Champaign County Public Library in Urbana. Another project for another time…

As to the C&G, all I can say is WOW. I have traditionally held the Western Reserve Chronicle of Warren, Ohio as the gold standard for newspapers featuring soldiers’ letters, as it featured 484 letters from April 1861 through December 1864 when online issues ended. The C&G takes the crown coming in at 559 letters from April 1861 through May 1865- which makes it the gold standard by which subsequent Ohio papers can be judged.

Joshua Saxton encouraged correspondents to write to the newspaper and in some issues nearly an entire page was devoted to their missives. This Champaign County paper featured a nice variety of regular correspondents (William A. Brand of the 66th Ohio had 82 letters, these letters are being published in my forthcoming Army Life According to Arbaw due out in March), George B. Hunter of the 2nd Ohio Infantry managed to write 24 letters in between his many battle wounds, Francis McAdams of the 113th Ohio had 25 letters) and occasional correspondents from out of state units such as the 2nd Iowa, 54th Massachusetts, and the 17th Michigan Infantry. One real surprise was a serial entitled “Things I have Seen: Reminiscences of the 2nd Horse in North Carolina” which features a lengthy journal account from Lieutenant E. Prentiss Tucker of Co. E, 2nd North Carolina Cavalry (C.S.A.)- yes that is correct, an 11-part serial published in late 1863-early 1864 from a captured Confederate in a small-town Ohio paper.
Colonel Charles Candy, 66th O.V.I.

The Ohio units that appear most frequently include the 66th Ohio (174 letters), the 2nd Ohio Infantry (54 letters), the 32nd Ohio (46 letters, most of them from a correspondent named Seneachie who will be featured in a future book I’m working on), the 113th Ohio (42 letters), the 26th Ohio (33 letters), the 95th Ohio (26 letters), and 38 from the 134th Ohio, a 100-days regiment. Add a smattering of letters from the 42nd Ohio, 86th Ohio, the 3rd and 12th Ohio Cavalry regiments, a few from the Navy, a couple from the 27th U.S.C.T., and even one from a clerk in the War Department describing the chaos in the army following defeat at Second Bull Run, and you can see that this one spectacular collection of letters.

As the focus of this blog has so often been on battle accounts, it is worth noting that this batch of letters read like a virtual blow-by-blow of the hardest fought engagements in the war:  First Bull Run, Wilson’s Creek, Carnifex Ferry, First Kernstown, Shiloh, McDowell, Cross Keys, Port Republic,  Cedar Mountain, Richmond (KY), Second Bull Run, Antietam, Harper’s Ferry, Corinth, Perryville, Prairie Grove, Dumfries, Stones River, Chancellorsville, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Battery Wagner, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Ringgold, the Overland Campaign, the Atlanta campaign, Brice’s Crossroads, Kennesaw Mountain, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta, and Petersburg.

One more gem that will be featured in an upcoming blog concerns the surrender at Appomattox- in this previously hitherto lost account we hear from the commissary captain (Joseph Carter Brand of Urbana) who at Appomattox was charged with distributing the 25,000 rations that Grant famously offered to Lee upon the conclusion of their signing the surrender agreement. This act began the national healing after four years of bitter strife, and an Urbana man who had operated a ‘stop’ on the Underground Railroad and had been tried in connection with the famous 1857 Greene County Rescue case (see blog post here: was intimately connected with it…

All in all, this index has taken longer than nearly any other that I have done but the results proved well worth the effort and this truly was a labor of love. Utilized in conjunction with the Urbana Union, it provides a tremendous insight into the Civil War experiences of Champaign County and for Ohio in general. Enjoy!

A link to the index can be found on my research page at Columbian Arsenal Press:

To access issues of the Urbana Citizen & Gazette, please visit the Champaign County Library website at:


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