News from Fredricksburg

News from Fredricksburg

News from Fredricksburg

News from Fredricksburg

Excerpt

Americans today are inundated with news available at any time on demand from a wide range of sources. Newspapers, magazines, twenty-four hour news channels, and the internet have made many of the standard clichés about an information age ring true. Shortly before the Civil War, the development of the telegraph and rapidly expanding newspaper circulation marked the beginning of a more modest but nevertheless significant revolution in communications. The war itself made the rapid and accurate transmission of information vital to government and citizens alike, though both Yankees and Rebels often suffered from the speedy arrival of unreliable news. This was never more true than after a major battle when politicians and families most wanted and needed the latest word.

Shortly after the fall elections in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln had replaced General George B. McCellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac with General Ambrose E. Burnside. The Federals had advanced quickly toward the Rappahannock River, but a series of delays had foiled Burnside's hope to steal a march on Robert E. Lee. As Federal troops began crossing the river on December 11 in preparation for a battle that would not begin until December 13, northerners and southerners alike nervously waited for word about this latest clash of arms.

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