R.I.P. Civil War Times and America’s Civil War

There’s much sadness in the Civil War community over the news that Civil War Times and America’s Civil War magazines have been shuttered (along with seven other history-focused magazines owned by the same company). As Civil War Times Illustrated, the flagship magazine for Civil War buffs traced its history all the way back to 1962. It was a product of the Centennial, when interest in the war was huge. Many of us have grown up with that magazine.

There’s much discussion in the field about whether interest in the Civil War is waning or has just changed in its nature (or both). Certainly, discussions of the war today come with baggage. It’s a good thing that society is trying to finally come to grips with a lot of unresolved and misrepresented issues, but it has also led to a lot of misperceptions, snap judgements, and animosity, too. I guess war—even one that’s been over for 159 years—has that effect on people.

But I know that interest in the Civil War has not dropped so precipitously that it has forced the cancellation of two magazines. If circulation was the issue, the answer would have been to trim from two magazines to one.

I’m friends with a few of the former members of the editorial team, as are many of my Emerging Civil War colleagues. We’ve been hearing stories for a couple years now of poor management practices by the corporate owners, who had entirely shifted away from the sense of “community” that makes so much of the Civil War world tick. This was incredibly frustrating to the editors, whom I know as passionate history buffs themselves as well as talented professionals. I have huge respect for former editors Dana Shoaf and Chris Howland.

A couple years ago, Kris White and I did an article for one of the magazines, and the magazine took nearly a year to pay us—well beyond the timetable stipulated in the contract. The editor was deeply embarrassed. The matter rested on the business side. Knowing how the publication business works, I sympathized. It was out of his hands. I don’t do this for the money, so I wasn’t all that worried, and I never held it against him—but it did make me more wary about the company.

I remember my first publication there, back, a co-authored piece with Kris White that offered a tour of the Wilderness battlefield. Our first cover story came in August 2010, “Second-Guessing Dick Ewell at Gettysburg” (here)—what a thrill! We did our first piece for America’s Civil War in March 2013, “How in the World Did They Shoot Stonewall Jackson?” (here). Many of my ECW colleagues and I have published in one or both of the magazines several times in the decade since. I am grateful for all the opportunities Dana and Chris provided to us.

In fact, publishing in those magazines was always an important part of the development of our “emerging” authors. After writing for the blog for a while, strengthening their chops and building some name recognition, the next logical step was a magazine article. We were, quite intentionally, the farm league for new talent as it got ready for the majors. Dana and Chris both read our site and kept tabs on that talent development. Any time our writers got the call up, it was awesome to see! Of the many reasons to lament the loss of the magazines, the loss of that pipeline for our people is the reason I regret most of all.

Of course, ECW continues to go strong despite a lot of activity in the digital space, particularly from do-it-yourselfers. We remain committed to providing a writing platform for emerging—as well as emerged—historians. We’re always open for guest submissions. (And if anyone who wrote for the magazines now feels “homeless,” we’d love to help you find a home with us.)

But a lot of this also comes back to you, Faithful Reader. Writers need readers. We appreciate all you do to support us, to support emerging voices in the field, and to support Civil War history in general. Thank you!

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For more on the great talent behind Civil War Times and America’s Civil War in recent years, here are some pieces from ECW that showcase the work of Dana Shoaf, Chris Howland, and Melissa Winn, the magazines’ former art director.

And for more on the changing nature of Civil War interest, listen to this ECW Podcast episode with Drew Gruber of Civil War Trails (Apple Podcasts; Spotify; ECW YouTube page).



60 Responses to R.I.P. Civil War Times and America’s Civil War

  1. I am sorry to hear this. It is a loss. I wrote a couple of reviews for the “Civil War Times Illustrated”.

  2. Much of the history biz, I am sad to say, has been taken over by ideologically possessed social justice zealots. Maybe when the madness dies down in a decade or so things will come back.

    1. That’s silly. There is still a strong Civil War community, as witnessed by groups like Emerging Civil War and the publishing success of Savas Beatie and the steady stream of CW military history coming from the university presses. The “SJWs” certainly have nothing to do with the failure of nine magazines that apparently had nanagement issues.

      Someone please tell that me Civil War Monitor is on firm ground. Hell, I’m still missing Blue & Gray.

  3. Dang! Well, I guess the two articles on Fremont I wrote, one for CWT and the other for ACW, won’t see the light of day. 🙁

    I have to think that CWT will reemerge, somehow, under some other publisher. It’s an iconic name, with lots of appeal.

    I wrote several articles for HistoryNet magazines, including one for CWT a few years back. I can tell you from personal experience that their pay rate for articles dropped dramatically. Sadly, it is very, very hard to make money selling history magazines nowadays, especially if you have to pay outside authors for content. Look what happened to National Geographic! https://www.cbsnews.com/philadelphia/news/national-geographic-magazine-layoffs/#:~:text=%22NatGeo%20is%20laying%20off%20all,ever%20class%20of%20staff%20writers.%22

    I have to think that the general dumping on all things Confederate has something to do with it, too. Descendants of Confederate soldiers are some of the, if not the, Civil War’s biggest enthusiasts. Who wants to subscribe to a magazine where you have to read about statues of your ancestors being pulled down, and you see that the hottest Civil War historians are the Kevin Levin types, who condemn any sign of respect for Confederates as fealty to the Lost Cause? Who’d want to pay for that? By all means, the Levinistas have every right to their view of Civil War heritage. Apparently those people don’t pay for magazine subscriptions?

    Wonder what will happen to Civil War popular history when AI gets hold of it. 🙁

    1. Amen to that, sir. I was not terribly interested in the Civil War, being mainly into modern military history…. until a few years ago I discovered my ancestors served in the 9th Virginia Cavalry, ANV. Before that I had no idea I had any ancestors involved in any way in American history. So naturally I started looking through the Civil War magazines that have been commonly available in bookstores… only to find that many of the articles were very biased, and that very rarely, if ever, did one see Confederate soldiers or officers on the covers of these magazines. But there were articles extoling the pulling down of Confederate statues, for instance, or at the very least not being objective about it. Which is why I ended up never buying these magazines. Instead, I joined the SCV and now get the bi-monthly (I think) Confederate Veteran magazine, for about 1/4 the price (included with membership, which is only $35/year). If there is anyone enthusiastic about civil war history, it’s descendants of the most maligned and put-upon group by academia these days, so you’d think publishing houses would do their best to cater to potentially their best customers.

      As for Levin….. I see I’m not the only one who has a very poor opinion of him. I tried to engage him in conversation a few years back, and his reaction was downright nasty and rude. I then challenged him to a public debate, and his response was “that’s not how I do history”. Yeah, tell me something I don’t know!

  4. That’s too bad. A friend of my father, Elmer Pothen, helped get me interested in history and gave me his back copies of Civil War Times from 1960 to 1962. As mentioned by another commenter, Civil War Times was a tabloid type magazine in 1959 and transitioned to a magazine style for its April 1960 edition (volume II, no. 1). Those issues are fascinating, not only for their Civil War coverage, but also as a window into the United States of 60 plus years ago. Civil War Times described itself as “non partisan”, which was necessary given the sectional feelings that still existed regarding the war. Probably the most interesting material came from its “current events editor”, who described the activities around the war’s centennial.

    1. That’s awesome, wish I’d been alive at that time (60s). Don’t know about CWT specifically, but many of these magazines definitely weren’t “non-partisan” in later years.

  5. I too have every issue of CWT. Sad to see it go. Only one left is Civil war Monitor mag. Wonder how long that will last

  6. Started reading it in 1969. I don’t have every issue but after my stroke I was helped in recovery of my speech by reading old issues from the 1970s which I have carefully preserved in my closet. Sorry to see it stop publishing.

  7. HistoryNet is based in LA. How much do y’all want to bet that they decided to cancel these mags because of their politics.

    1. I don’t think it was politics. I had several articles published in HistoryNet magazines, to include one in CWT. They were having real financial problems. The rates they paid for third-party content dropped dramatically during the time I submitted work to them. The revenue just wasn’t there.

    2. It was a financial decision. They had problems paying their contributors. They had problems paying their staff. They put a number of staffers on furlough for a while a year or two ago.

  8. As a kid growing up in the 70s, there were two monthly magazines I eagerly waiting for Boys Life because I was a boy Scout and Civil War Time

  9. Sad to see what I hope will be only a short-lived stoppage of both magazines as they were fixtures in my life for many years.
    Is there anything the Civil War community can do to bring them back?

    1. The name “Civil War Times” should be valuable to some publisher. It’s literally a brand, with a devoted following. I’m guessing that HistoryNet’s woes were so bad that they pulled all the company’s magazines down with them.

  10. Sad to see history magazines disappear, but I’m not surprised. Magazines and newspapers are slowly being converted to digital or they’re are going out of business.

  11. So this explains why I have not seen these magazines on my local B&N magazine rack. They were outstanding magazines that will be missed. As indicated by Kojack, many magazines and newspapers have gone out of business recently for financial reasons while others are on life support (see Sports Illustrated). The evidence-free claim that the owners of these Civil War magazines shut them down for political reasons is silly and nonsensical.

    1. I too noticed that CWT and ACW haven’t been on Barnes & Noble’s magazine section, so this answers the reason why.

      It’s a shame that the Civil War Times and to a lesser extent, America’s Civil War, has run it’s course and has joined the late Blue & Gray Magazine and North and South in the past tense. I have subscribed to all those Civil war magazine over the decades, but over the last several years, I preferred to picked them up B&N rather than have damaged issues arrived in the mail. So I am down to The Civil War News, Civil War Navy and Gettysburg Magazine. Maybe I should subscribe to The Civil War Monitor rather than pick up issues that peaked my interest at B&N…..

      1. It’s funny you mention the magazines being damaged in the mail. I’m a subscriber to Confederate Veteran, the magazine for members of the SCV, and for about a year in the 2020-2021 time period I would receive it with a knife cut down the center, or mangled/torn, etc. That’s ceased since then, and it’s helped that it’s now sent in an opaque wrapper.

    2. John: You make an excellent point. Any notion that they went out of business for “political” reasons is absurd. I actually know some people who began reading one or the other because they reflected modern scholarship on the war rather than hidebound fictions. The real causes affect all print media. Anybody who is involved in the climbing hobby knows this. For 40+ years there were two great magazines – Climbing and Rock & Ice. You’d subscribe to both because they had slightly different approaches. About three years ago R&I was encountering difficulty and Climbing took it over. Climbing cratered as a print publication in 2022.

      1. I don’t know about “political”, but bias was one of the reasons I never purchased these magazines, at least the ones I read through at the bookstores in the last few years. I got the impression that if I wanted to read this stuff, I could get it from any number of YouTube videos or commentators who were repeating the same things.

  12. I was surprised to read this! I subscribe to both magazines and I have never received a notice from them that they were going out of business! I would not have known had I not seen this article. Wonder how they will handle subscriptions that run until next year or more. No refund I imagine. I am sure my subscription was for the rest of this year or next. No wonder I have not seen any issues for quite some time. I still get the Civil War Monitor. Wonder how long that will last? I enjoyed these magazines because they were for a general audience—well written, interesting articles but not too academic to get down in the weeds. This is sad news indeed!

    1. I don’t think they gave advanced warning because they didn’t want staff or subscribers jumping ship and making matters worse–although I know several staffers who’d left already.

    2. I had suspected all this was happening when I stopped getting the physical issues of any of the magazines I subscribe to from HistoryNet. No notification from the publishers about what was going on or why. The only reason I knew something at all was because I had originally made three subscriptions from MagazineAgent, not directly from the publisher, and there was a notification on my subscriptions page there that there were going to be delays in receiving the magazines. But then it was “they are skipping two print cycles” and then I saw a post elsewhere that said all of their editors had been “terminated,” and now I find out from reading about it here that all nine of their magazines are shutting down publication. The truly aggravating thing about it is that I had just subscribed to the two Civil War magazines and Wild West back in September of 2023, rather than pick them up at my local bookstore. No word about whether or not I will receive any refunds. I emailed them for information and did not receive a reply. I tried calling by phone (which I had done at one point before) but there is no answer any more. At least I have been able to get free digital versions of the issues I am missing, but I didn’t subscribe for digital issues. I wanted the physical issues. At least now I have some answers, though.

  13. Since I was born in 1962, Civil War Times and CWTI has literally been a part of my entire life. Its demise is heartbreaking but not surprising, given the current difficulties in the print media business. What would certainly be more concerning is if the magazine was shuttered because of lack of interest in the Civil War. There is no question that we are in a period of declining interest, but it’s also true that we’ve been here before. It may take a few years but I believe interest in the war will come back, thanks in no small part to the work of Emerging Civil War!

    1. A lot of interest in the war is being generated by involvement in websites like AncestryDNA and others. I was hardly interested in the war until I learned my ancestors fought in it. Now it’s extremely interesting to me, because now it’s personal, and I don’t think I’m alone. I believe websites like Ancestry will be generating more interest in the future.

  14. As with all who have posted, I am sorry to see them go. I was pleased with how Chris Howland and his wonderful staff assisted in crafting my article “A Very Convenient Truth” for publication. Sadly, it appears in what turns out to be their farewell January 2024 issue. I wish them all God Speed and best wishes in all their future endeavors.

  15. I’ve received an email from a former HistoryNet editor. The Spring 2024 issue will be the last for all nine of HistoryNet’s publications. ALL of the magazines are shutting down. I don’t know if the website, historynet.com, will stay online.

    I have to think that the owners of HistoryNet want to get at least some money out of all of this. I hope that they are in discussion with, or are willing to talk to, other parties who might be willing to buy the property rights to specific magazine titles—like Civil War Times—that do have an established reputation and readership base.

    If we, the Civil War heritage community, don’t want to see Civil War Times disappear forever, there has to be a solution out there.

    I ask this as a serious question, from someone who knows next-to-nothing about the publishing business. Isn’t it possible to launch Civil War Times as an online magazine, with articles written by people who are willing to work for free? At least initially, while the magazine reinvents itself and gets on its feet? With a print-on-demand option, for those people who want a hardcopy?

    1. Great ideas. It will take someone with a passion for Civil War history, willing to work for next to nothing during the restart period.

    2. You asked, “Isn’t it possible to launch Civil War Times as an online magazine, with articles written by people who are willing to work for free?” You’ve basically just described Emerging Civil War. 😉

  16. I note Karen Connair’s commentary above; same deal here, Karen.
    I subscribed to Military History/CWT/Military History Quarterly maybe last spring(2023)? Never got a single note in writing; the “customer service” phone # was/is a complete joke; zero service, zero help. This History.net company was/is worthless and doggone near a fraud. Their website(History.net) is atrocious; about 90% WW2 it seems; in which I had zero interest. This corporation didn’t deserve to make it; although I’ll particularly miss the MHQ magazine.

    1. You’re not the only one to be unhappy with the way the business side of HistoryNet operated. But, it does seem that the owners tried like crazy to make money selling history magazines—and failed. You can’t help but wonder if any history magazine could be profitable nowadays.

  17. Civil War Times Illustrated was my magazine “gateway drug” to my civil war addiction growing up in the 80s. I hope everyone will support the Monitor since it seems to be the only one left. Also I hope there is a way to access the old CWT and ACW content, but somehow I doubt that will happen easily.

  18. There has to be a business opportunity out there for someone. There is a model by where ‘niche’ printed publications can survive. There is a small, but highly dedicated group of us in this community. Reminds me of how NBC has been able to make niche sports like horse racing, IndyCar and track viable when a small, but committed audience exists.

    1. I’m a relatively new horse racing enthusiast, and it floors me how many YOUNG people are entering the fanbase every year, and attending races in person. Of course a lot of it has to do with the exciting wagering.

  19. I wonder of advertisers reach a wider audience via Internet ads, rather than advertising in a magazine.

  20. I let my subscriptions to both Civil War Times and America’s Civil War lapse last year. The magazines were getting thinner and there seemed to be more articles that began with a one or two-page title page with graphics instead of actual content. I decided my money could be better spent supporting history-related content creators on Patreon instead. Civil War Monitor, Civil War Navy, Military Images, and of course ABT’s Hallowed Ground are all deserving of new subscribers if folks need a Civil War history fix in their mailboxes.

    1. I agree, there are hundreds of ‘kids’ on YouTube putting out more content in a single video than can be found in 10 of these magazines.

  21. This is devastating. Another couple of superb CW/WBTS publications are gone. Why has this happened and what does it take to keep a high caliber print copy going?

  22. I’ll miss CWT, too. They had the market to themselves for a while and when new mags transgressed, they held their own. American Battlefield Trust puts out a magazine if any one doesn’t know.

  23. I’m filling out my collection of Blue and Gray magazines. The tours in the back have stood the test of time.

    1. By all means keep them. I don’t have a collection of any civil war magazines. However, when I got rid of decades of National Geographic magazines (I simply had no room for them) I kept one. That one is the July, 1963 edition that has articles and maps of the battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and excellent three page fold-out illustrations of Gettysburg.
      Now that National Geographic has let the last of its staff writers go, I may regret getting rid of the magazines. The disc the magazine sold many years ago, that had every copy from the first onward, apparently does not work in modern computers. It would not be the same as leafing through a new magazine that has just arrived at your door anyway.
      Bottom line, in my opinion, is that my grandchildren are missing a lot by not having all these magazines, as well as a daily newspaper or two, arriving regularly.

  24. I would like to see some marketing research on the ACW. My strong suspicion is that there may be a lot of people lightly engaged with the subject matter on occasion but that the obsessors are dying out and new ones are a fraction of replacement level. I organically don’t know a soul with more than a vague interest in the ACW. The only people I’ve met are from ACW events.

    1. To be honest, the only ones I know are fellow members of the SCV. I mean interested in the MILITARY history, not the social/racial history– there are thousands of the latter everywhere.

    2. I suggest many of us got interested in the Civil War when we were younger, when libraries and books and magazines were the main sources of our information. Now, who is interested in old, moldy history when there is all kinds of social media where one can get all kinds of reliable information on any topic from all sorts of experts. /sarc off.

  25. I was not interested in the Civil War until recently in the last few years, and would thumb through the issues of these magazines at the bookstores. Rarely bought them, for several reasons: 1) Way too expensive– they cost as much as a typical softcover book; 2) Way too many ads; 3) Seemed very biased– very few covers/stories about one side, while favoring the other. I remember one entire “intro” article in one of them about how honorable or necessary it was to take down the Lee statue in Richmond. That was enough for me.

  26. This discussion of the demise of the CWT has sparked a memory that could be significant. It involves the CWT back in the early 1970s.
    When I was a bored university student back then, for a diversion I would sometimes descend into the deep levels of the main library at my university, and go to the shelves that had books about the Civil War. In one of those books, of an orange color I think, there was one photograph that was most interesting. I took the book off the shelves and looked at it many times. It was of a line (or perhaps two ranks) of union soldiers, loading and firing their rifles. It did not appear at all to be a civil war reenactment. Not in the slightest. It looked old and authentic. I think I recall there being a white wall of a building, or perhaps a white fence, in the picture as well. The picture lacked some clarity, as if it had been taken hastily. The soldiers were at a bit of a distance. Some of the action in the picture is blurred, just as it would be if the photograph was taken by a camera of the day. It was not posed. In fact, the rank(s) appeared to be somewhat loose, as if in a bit of disarray. I believe the caption referred to union soldiers in a battle. The book would have been published in the 1950s or early 1960s. It was not a new book when I was looking at it.
    When I looked through a copy of the CWT back then, in the magazine section of the library, I think it was offering an award of $1,000 to anyone who could present the magazine with a live action photograph of civil war combat. I never followed up to see if I could verify the picture.
    It has been a long time, and I don’t even know in which library at the university that book may now be, or even if it was kept. When I have some time on my hands, I may go back and use my alumni privileges at the university to hunt for it. If I find it I will let you now. Might be a fruitless search this many years on but if I find it it will be thanks to the CWT.
    Among those of us on ECW, we have collectively probably read or perused thousands of books. Does anyone here have a similar recollection?

  27. ACW cashed my check in 9/23 and I never saw another issue. I was willing to continue my subscription which went back to 1990. They stole my money, and their web site is still up but phone numbers are dead. I wasted several hours trying to contact them. Take down that web site. Thieves!! Good riddance to the last staff!

  28. What about those of us that have a paid subscription through 2025. Are we getting a refund?

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