Sherman's Other War: The General and the Civil War Press

Synopsis

William Tecumseh Sherman saw a direct correlation between press censorship and military victory. He diligently tried to implement severe antipress policies, and as a result was the target of intense newspaper counterfire. In Sherman's Other War (originally published in 1981), John Marszalek traces the roots of the general's hostility toward the press and details his attempts to muzzle reporters during the Civil War, culminating in Sherman's exclusion of all reporters from his famous March to the Sea.

Despite the passage of over a century, the question of press rights in wartime situations is very much today what it was during the Civil War. Marszalek finds throughout American history a recurring movement toward repression of the press, with Sherman's attitudes and practices only one of the most obvious examples. He also finds that press rights during wartime have often been governed by reactions to specific circumstances rather than treated as a constitutional issue. During Sherman's court-martial of reporter Thomas W. Knox after Vicksburg, the Constitution was never mentioned by either party; personal considerations were at issue.

Marszalek analyzes the constitutional ramifications of Sherman's antipress activities and demonstrates how such attitudes threaten American liberties.