Book Review: Marketing the Blue and Gray: Newspaper Advertising and the American Civil War


by Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr.

Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2019. Pp. xii, 244. Notes, biblio., index. $47.00. ISBN: 0807170828

Marketing the Blue and Gray: Newspaper Advertising and the American Civil War, by Lawrence A. Kreisser, Jr. Baton Rouge: Louisiana Stare University Press, 2019. Pp. xii, 244. Notes, biblio., index. $47.00, ISBN 978-0-8071-7082-3; e-editions available.

Advertising in the Era of the Civil War

Drawing on some 550 newspapers, North and South, Prof. Kreisser (Stillman), author of several works in Civil War history and popular culture, looks at advertising during the conflict, and finds it playing a far more complex role than merely promoting products.

While advertisers on both sides of the sectional divide very early began using patriotic memes as a way of promoting the goods and services they had to offer – a practice commonplace in more recent conflicts and crises as well – he also found that both the Union and Confederate governments, national and local, and even civic groups and individual citizens used ads to promote recruiting, bond sales, and the war effort in general. So alongside promos for patent medicine, plows, and the like, are ads touting the need to enlist. As Kreisser does this, he also gives us a look at daily life during the war, as reflected in the products and services people bought – many unique to the period – and gives some idea of the impact of the war on the cost of living.

The principal flaw of Marketing the Blue and Gray is Kreisser’s failure to include some no illustrations, a great loss given that he often mentions some impressive looking spreads. Nevertheless, an excellent read for those with any interest in America in the era of the Civil War.


Note: Marketing the Blue and Gray is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close