Sunday, September 05, 2004

The Press during the Civil War. In chapter 47 of his Personal Memoirs, U.S. Grant describes the military situation at the point where he assumes the position of General-in-Chief in early 1864. His thesis is that the opposing forces in the East "stood in substantially the same relations toward each other as three years before." What arrests me about his discription is what he says about the press.

"Battles had been fought of as great severity as had ever been known in war, over ground from the James River and Chicahominy, near Richmond, to Gettysburg and Chambrsburg, in Pennsylvania, with indecisive results, sometimes favorable to the National army, sometimes to the Confederate army; but in every instance, I believe, claimed as victories for the South by the Southern press if not by the Southern generals. The Northern press, as a whole, did not discourage these claims; a portion of it always magnified rebel success and belittled ours, while another portion, most sincerely earnest in their desire for the preservation of the Union and the overwhelming success of the Federal armies, would nevertheless generally express dissatisfaction with whatever victories were gained because they were not more complete."

No comments: