Monday, August 22, 2011

Treason of the Newspapers

 This entry is an excerpt from the Cincinnati Press, as found in The Rebellion Record:  A Diary of American Events, Volume II, 1862 edited by Frank Moore.  It discusses General Rosecrans' order of August 20, 1861 regarding information published in newspapers.


General W. S. Rosecrans, commanding the Army of the Occupation in Western Virginia, in a General order bearing the date of 20th inst. "invites the aid of the press to prevent the enemy from learning through it the position, strength, and movements of the troops under his command."  "Such information," he continues, "is of the greatest service to the enemy, and deprives the commander of our forces of all the advantages which arise form the secrecy of concentration and surpise -- advantages which are constantly enjoyed by the rebels, whose press never appears to betray them." 

General Rosecrans is a humorist.  He invites the tongues of rumor, the trumpet of common fame, the very embodiment of gossip, the thing which is nothing if not clamorous , to aid him in holding its peace -- invites it.  Why does he not go forth into some of the valleys in the vicinity of his camp, and invite the echoes that inhabit the neighboring hill-sides to be kind enough to intermit their performances?  We can imagine them replying to his solicitations:  If we cease to tattle, what are we?  Who will know that we exist?  How shall we know it ourselves?  He can we?  Are se not vox preterea nihil?  Take away the voice, and what remains? . . ..

Yet these things have been tolerated; nay they have been encouraged.  Every officer from Commanding General to Corporal, has seemed to think it desirable to have the correspondent of a newspaper at his elbow, to sing his praises, put him right with the public, and be the convenient vehicle to transmit to the world a knowledge of his exploits.  They very Commander-in-Chief of the army invites the editor of a New York Journal to dinner, and develops him the entire plan of a campaign, which, on the next day, makes its appearance in print, semi-editorially and semi-officially, without any suspicion of breach of confidence in the relator.
William Stark Rosecrans, by Brady, from Library of Congress Collection

No comments:

Post a Comment