Throughout the Civil War, in towns both large and small, North and South, people gathered in the town squares or near newspaper or telegraph offices to get the latest news from the front lines. Of particular interest were the reports of battles, especially if hometown units were known to have been involved.
Perhaps nothing brought more anxiety, consternation, and pain than the occasional posting of casualty lists, often in a letter home to the newspaper from the commander of the local boys. Parents, wives, siblings, friends, all read through the lists with an anxious heart.
For some, the news was not good.
In the sultry summer of 1863, the residents of Hanover learned the sad toll from their hometown soldiers, Company D of the 76th Pennsylvania, at the recent battle at Fort Wagner near Charleston, South Carolina. On July 11, Captain Cyrus Diller penned the casualty list and mailed it to Maria Leader, the editor/owner of the Hanover Spectator. It was one of the few female-owned newspapers in the country at the time. The Adams Sentinel and General Advertiser reprinted Diller’s list on August 4, 1863.