Bombastic Yet Insightful: Georgia's Civil War Soldier Correspondents

Article excerpt

Writing from Vicksburg, Mississippi, in early 1863, "Amnon," a correspondent with the Augusta Chronicle & Sentinel, declared that the North's siege of the city was doomed to fail. The Union Army was being "decimated" by death and desertions, he boasted, and if troops tried to attack the Confederate stronghold, it would become a "slaughter pen" filled with Yankee dead.' Two months later, however, a more subdued and chastened correspondent gave his readers back home in Georgia a vivid picture of the toll Federal bombing had taken on the strategically important city. The shelling had become so constant that residents of Vicksburg were indifferent to the constant attacks. "Amnon" described one elderly man who calmly sat on the front porch every day while Union shells flew over head. Despite the threat to his safety, the man never moved.2

The reporting of "Amnon" during the siege of Vicksburg was characteristic of the letters Georgia's soldier correspondents supplied to their hometown newspapers during the American Civil War.3 Written in the bombastic, inflated style of the era, many of the letters not surprisingly were little more than boastful propaganda proclaiming the superiority of the Southern cause and the bravery of Confederate troops. Yet other letters had a real human interest quality, contained excellent descriptive features, and provided valuable insight into the war.

Historians have virtually ignored the reporting done by the South's soldier correspondents, even though it constituted the majority of original news printed by many Confederate newspapers during the Civil War.4 Struggling financially, few Southern editors could afford to hire paid, full-time correspondents to cover a war of the vast scale that the Civil War presented. Instead, many editors made arrangements with hometown soldiers to send back letters describing their wartime experiences.

This study examines the soldiers' correspondence that appeared in the newspapers of one state, Georgia.5 More than forty soldiers corresponded with the state's newspapers at various times during the war. Some of the men, going by such names as "Private," "Bayonet," "Ready," and "Ogelthorpe," sent back only a handful of letters and were never heard from again. But other soldiers, such as "J. T. G." of the Columbus Enquirer, "Tivoli" of the Atlanta Southern Confederacy, and "Toutle-Monde" of the Savannah Republican, sent back regular correspondence for years.

Soldier correspondents were important because they provided much of the original reporting found in Georgia's wartime press. In relating the stories of hometown men fighting in faraway places, these volunteer correspondents provided readers with their own brand of "local" news, the sort of news that had not been emphasized by the state's newspapers before the war, yet had taken on added importance as newspaper reading increasingly became a part of daily life.6 While soldier correspondents had no formal training, they regularly used such reporting techniques as interviewing and firsthand observation. And the vivid, descriptive style of their letters was in line with the increasing realism found in writing during the nineteenth century. In these ways, soldier correspondents unknowingly, but significantly, were helping to influence the future direction of news coverage and reporting by Georgia's newspapers.7

The practice of American newspapers using letters from individuals as news goes back to the earliest days of the country's press. Reporting had yet to evolve as a profession, and enterprising editors looked everywhere they could for copy. Private letters from informed individuals to other private citizens occasionally were made available to editors who were glad for any bit of news. The writers of these letters frequently were referred to in print as "our correspondent,' even though they were not paid for their writing.8 Likewise, soldiers had been used by American newspapers to provide copy in all of the nation's wars prior to the Civil War. In fact, it was not until the Mexican War that the press made extensive use of full-time, paid correspondents.9

Reporting did not begin to emerge as a somewhat distinct profession until the so-called "Penny Press" era when editors such as James Gordon Bennett and Horace Greeley hired reporters to cover news in New York City and abroad. Still, thU emergence of reporters during the mid 1800s was slower among Southern newspapers, including those in Georgia. Antebellum newspapers, even those in the larger cities, remained staunchly partisan through mid century and, on the eve of the Civil War, most continued to emphasize editorial content more than news.10 Few papers in the South, and only one in Georgia, tried to emulate the penny press model used by major dailies in the North.11 As best as can be determined, none of Georgia's dailies had reporting staffs, although some daily editors employed one or two assistant editors who helped with news gathering and editorial writing.

For these reasons, only the largest daily newspapers in the South and only one in Georgia sent full-time, paid correspondents to cover the fighting when the Civil War began in 1861.12 Yet the state's editors recognized that readers would want news of the war from Georgia regiments comprised of hometown men. So they made arrangements with a member of a local regiment, often an officer, to send back occasional letters to the paper with news of the war from their particular locale. To make sure readers knew they were getting original reporting, editors usually included such titles as "Special Correspondent" or "Our Army Correspondent." In fact, many editors took great pride in the group of volunteer correspondents they had secured. The editor of the Atlanta Southern Confederacy, for example, bragged in 1862 that the newspaper had "a most efficient corps of able correspondents from all points of special interests in the army."14

As soldiers, correspondents worked under conditions that tested their reporting and writing to the utmost. Their hand-written letters were composed everywhere from battlefield trenches to military hospitals. They wrote on any flat surface available, including camp chests and tree stumps. A correspondent with the Columbus Enquirer closed one letter by writing, "Your readers must pardon a short letter. No man can write in a happy vein or style while minnie [sic] balls are flying uncomfortably close to his head. 15 Gathering information for their letters could prove difficult, as a soldier correspondent with the Atlanta Southern Confederacy described. He complained about being snubbed at army headquarters by everyone from an orderly to an officer. Then there were the officers who wanted to know why the correspondent did not mention their particular regiment or brigade. lnvariably, the same officer who had snubbed the correspondent would ask him confidentially, "Why do you never say anything about the general in your letters?"16

As members of the Confederate Army, soldier correspondents from Georgia regularly suffered from mal-nourishment, while often enduring inadequate clothing, supplies, and medical treatment. And in a war with such a high casualty rate, they were in constant danger of being killed, wounded, or captured.17

As soldiers fighting for their homeland, the correspondents for Georgia's newspapers in no way were detached or objective in their writing. Writing in the formal, declamatory style of the era, their letters in numerous cases were intended as much to inspire readers back home as to inform them of news.18 In many other instances, however, their correspondence had undeniable news value and provided readers in Georgia valuable insight into the war and what life was like for soldiers in the Confederate Army.19

In June 1863, Confederate troops crossed over the Potomac River in a pivotal campaign that would culminate with the Battle of Gettysburg. Among the troops was Virgil S. Parks, who had recently begun serving as a correspondent for the Savannah Republican.

After crossing the river, Confederate commander John Bell Hood stopped his army and issued the soldiers a rare treat a ration of whiskey. Parks described the scene that soon took place as hundreds of men began feeling the effects of the alcohol.

While I believe too free use of the "ardent" is injurious, particularly to the soldier, I believe the troops were benefited this time; for all the previous night and uml 3 o'clock that evening they were exposed to a cold, drizzling rain. Furthermore, we had to wade the Potomac and were not allowed to strip. In thirty minutes after the whiskey was issued, Hood's division presented the liveliest spectacle I ever saw. Good humor and wit ran high, and it was difficult even to hear one's self talk.20

One of the most outstanding features of the letters provided by Georgia's soldier correspondents was the glimpse they gave into army life. Correspondents frequently displayed considerable enterprise in producing human interest stories during the long stretches when there was no fighting taking place.

Certainly there were plenty of soldier correspondents for whom finding something newsworthy or compelling to write home about was a challenge. Many stories appeared in Georgia newspapers during the war beginning with the stock phrase, "There is little news in camp to report today." Invariably, however, the correspondent then went on to describe whatever he could find that had taken place recently, no matter how trivial or mundane.

Yet the more talented correspondents found interesting stories in camp life, including such topics as food, shelter, recreation, and religion. Soldiers from Georgia also wrote about military reviews, visitors to camp, and the celebration of holidays. These stories captured the gamut of wartime experiences. For example, "A. N. M." of the Sandersville Central Georgian described how his brigade spent a gloomy Christmas the first year of the war. The men spent the day felling trees for their winter quarters and afterwards had a dinner of boiled beef and baker's bread, he reported.2' It was a far different scene three years later as "Orderly" of the Columbus Tmes described a late-winter storm that had left the mountains of north Georgia covered with snow. The blanket of white turned many of the troops into little boys, and they held a mock battle that became known as the "Great Snowball Fight.22

Although most of the stories examined the positive side of the war, the more honest correspondents also described grim subjects: military executions, the spread of disease, the mounting casualty figures, and the toll of the war on the South's towns, countryside, and, of course, its people. In January 1863, "Volunteer," whose regiment was camped near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, reported how he had to endure bitter cold for days without a blanket or overcoat. While on picket duty, the Atlanta Southern Confederacy 's correspondent amused himself counting the campfires of the Federal army. For an entire week he did not wash his face or leave the trenches except for a few hours one night.23

"Tivoli," another correspondent for the Southern Confederacy, described the punishments handed out to law breakers in the army. Soldiers found guilty of serious crimes, such as rape or murder, were shot or hanged. Those found guilty of lesser offenses were required to march with a ball and chain or wear a "flour barrel" shirt. This last punishment was "very much dreaded," he reported.24 Occasionally, soldiers made light of the dangers they faced. In his description of one battle, a correspondent wrote, "Mr. Lincoln or somebody else, owes me a new cap, as I had mine shot to pieces on my head during Wednesday's fight. Hope they will shoot a little higher next time."

Many of the correspondents clearly were most comfortable writing in the first-person style. Writing in January 1863, a correspondent for the Columbus Sun described how Vicksburg still showed signs of the bombardment by the Union fleet the previous summer. Gaping holes could be seen in many of the homes,churches, and public buildings. But the correspondent seemed most concerned about the exorbitant prices being charged by the city's merchants. The cost and poor quality at one restaurant left him feeling that he did not get his money's worth. (See box next page.)

Correspondents also wrote about the devastating effect of the war on the South. Perhaps nowhere was this more evident than during the long siege of Vicksburg. After the town's surrender to Union forces in 1863, stories began to appear describing the conditions during the final days of the campaign. A correspondent for the Augusta Const/nal/st reported that during the siege in some places Federal lines were within ten feet of the Confederate trenches, "close enough to make scribbling on ship crackers and tossing them into our ditches a favorite amusement."26 The correspondent also described the toll the fighting had taken on Confederate troops who were forced to eat anying they could get their hands on. "[Rats] are a luxury," he wrote. "Small fishes sell at twenty dollars. Chickens at ten dollars each. Mule meat has sold readily at two dollars a pound, in market, and I eat it once a week. The soldiers have had only one meal a day for ten days, and then one man does not get what a child should have."

When the Confederate Army marched into Pennsylvania during the Gettysburg campaign, soldiers got their first glimpse of the wartime North. Sel Georgia correspondents reported on the reception given by residents of the state. At Chambersburg, correspondent Parks told of how he had never seen so many long faces, adding that the expressions of some women "would have made vinegar ashamed of itself for sourness." Some citizens told the troops that they could expect to receive a good thrashing from the Federal Army, he reported.27 A correspondent for the Atlanta Southern Confederacy found the resoluteness of Chambersburg's residents admirable.

[T]he whole population were at the windows or on the to see us, and all breathed alike, in their quiet looks, the most unmitigated scorn and hatred to us.... Even amidst their sackcloth and ashes they showed every evidence of their dtr and we could not help but admire the firm, unshaken malmer in which they uphold their accursed cause.28

The practice of using direct quotations in stories was not widespread in Civil War journalism. Nonetheless, some correspondents recognized that quotations could be effective and used them, albeit sparingly. After the battle of Fort Sumter, a reporter for the Columbus T imes reported General P. G. T. Beauregard's reaction upon receiving news of the fort's surrender. "Noble Carolinians," he told a cheering crowd of soldiers, "accept my warmest congratulations on your victory-not won by me, but by the gallant men who so promptly obeyed my orders. The war has been commenced."29 And in his report on the Battle of Chickamauga, "Tout-le-Monde" described General Hood riding along the Confederate lines before the fighting began. Hood smiled and told his troops, "Boys all went well yesterday."30

Unquestionably, most Georgia soldier correspondents wrote in the dramatic, inflated style of the era. As could be expected of fighting men, many of their stories were filled with specious, bombastic descriptions of heroic, God-fearing Confederate troops overcoming great odds to defeat a cruel, blood-thirsty enemy bent on destroying the Southern way of life. Victory on the battlefield, the letters declared in their formal, euphoric style, was a sure sign of the superiority of the Southern soldier, the rightness of the Confederate cause, and the fact that Almighty God was on their side. An example of the declamatory style popular was that of "Veritas," a soldier correspondent with the Augusta Constitutionalist. He wrote of his brigade after the battle of Fredericksburg in 1863: "I know men never occupied a more trying position, held it more firmly, fought more desperately, charged more gallantly, and obtained a more complete victory, than did these brave Georgians. "31

Yet among the letters of more skilled correspondents were some outstanding examples of descriptive writing. These correspondents recognized that a war of such enormous scale provided countless examples of not only courage and bravery, but also agony and suffering. And they recognized that the description, in most cases, did not need any elaboration. Writing from his camp after the first day of fighting at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1864, the Savannah Republican's "Tout-le-Monde" described the beautiful harvest moon that rose over the battlefield. The silence of the evening, he wrote movingly, was broken only by the shrieks of the wounded.32

The effect of the war on the South was the subject of some compelling descriptive writing by correspondents. Although it was no doubt tempting for many soldiers to do little more than express outrage at the frightful toll the fighting was taking, others were content to simply let the description speak for itself. These pieces largely avoided the flowery language of the day and instead were written in a simple, straight-forward style. They also avoided panoramic pictures, but focused on small, telling details.

For example, during the siege of Atlanta in the summer of 1864, the city was constantly bombarded by enemy batteries. "Outline," a correspondent for the Columbus Times, reported that the shelling had made Atlanta appear all but deserted. The only people seen on the street, he wrote, were occasional residents searching for vegetables and a few boys selling fruit from under the cover of bomb-proof trenches. Although the shelling often caused fires, most were promptly extinguished by the city's fire department. "Outline" also wrote of how General Hood maintained his headquarters in a cottage formerly occupied by the head of the Confederate Press Association. The only mark distinguishing it as the headquarters was the battle flag flying from a white staff at the gate. "Outline" reported that Hood frequently could be seen on the balcony smoking his long-stemmed pipe.33

Not surprisingly, some of the best descriptive writing was produced after major battles. Sights and sounds were mixed with imagery and allusion in vivid pictures of heroism and tragedy. For example, on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, "Tout-le-Monde" described the attack on Big and Little Round Tops from the viewpoint of the Confederate command. As Southern troops made the gradual ascent across the wide field, they came under devastating fire from Union artillery, he wrote in his narrative.

Down the plunging shot came, bursting before and around and everywhere tearing up the ground in a terrific rain of Death. Still the old brigade moved on its solid and beautiful line. . . . As it approached the guns, the rain of grape and canister began, mingling their sharp cries with the shrill whistle of the mad minnie [sic] balls which seemed to come in showers. The ranks began to melt away, but springing forward with a shout the undismayed line steadily rushed on, determined this time to sacrifice every life or carry the cannon-crowned hill before them.34

A correspondent for the Augusta Constitutionalist described the fighting from the vantage point of Georgia troops who were attacking the Federal center on Cemetery Ridge, one of the most famous scenes in American military history.

As soon as we emerged from the woods and came into the open fields, the enemy poured a most terrific fire of shells into our ranks. We rushed down the hillside and reaching the valley found it was broken by a series of small ridges and hollows nmning parallel with the enemy's line on the mountain; and in the first of these depressions and hollows our line paused for breath. Then we rushed over the next ridge into the succeeding hollow, and thus we worked our way across that temble field for more than a mile under the most furious fire of artillery I had ever seen. When we reached the base of the range upon which the enemy were posted, they opened upon us with their infantry, and raked our whole line with grape and canister from more than twenty guns.35

The Georgians eventually found themselves pinned in with no support. To escape capture, they had to turn and fight their way out, the correspondent reported. When the brigade regrouped a half-mile to the rear, only 554 men were left of the 1,600 who had begun the attack.

The next year, Rover," an occasional correspondent for the Augusta Chronicle & Sentinel, was the only correspondent of any kind for Georgia-and the entire Confederacy-to report the dramatic climax of the Atlanta campaign on September 1, 1864. In a straight-forward account, he wrote that with the exception of some individuals, including soldiers who participated in looting, the evacuation was accomplished in good order. The army spent most of September 1 removing what ammunition and supplies it could carry. Large quantities of public stores then were distributed to the remaining residents and to the troops who filed through the city as they were withdrawn from the Confederate lines. Many of the soldiers had expressions of sorrow on their weather-beaten faces, he reported. By nightfall the great majority of the army had left Atlanta. The troops remaining behind burned the ammunition and other property of any value in the city. The conflagration and explosions could be seen and heard from miles away, he reported.36

Correspondence from soldiers was regularly filled with boasting and swaggering at the superiority of Confederate troops and the Southern cause. The belief that one Confederate soldier could whip ten Yankees was a constant refrain of soldier correspondents back to their hometown newspapers. Such braggadocio often reached its greatest heights in the most difficult circumstances. Writing from Vicksburg, "Amnon" expressed frustration at the seemingly endless siege the city had been put under by General Ulysses S. Grant's Union Army. In one letter, the correspondent expressed supreme confidence in the ability of the city to hold out and he invited an attack by Federal forces, saying, "Very little time is left for a regular siege, the vertical rays of the sun have come to the assistance of the Coates, and what the bullets of our rifleman leave undone, disease will finish to perfection."37

Other soldiers used their letters to do little more than glorify battles of the war in general. "Of the gallantry displayed by both officers and men, I could not, if the vocabulary of praise was searched, speak too highly," a correspondent with the Athens Southern Banner declared in one letter to his hometown newspaper. 'When the history of the affair comes to be written, the brightest page will record the achievement of the Troup Artillery."' And aT. D. W.," a soldier correspondent who sent regular letters to the Atlanta Southern Confederacy, wrote the following after a battle in Tennessee in 1863: "See our brave little band as they advance with deadly impetuosity, upon the foe, and in a perfect shower of bullets meeting his numerous columns in hand to hand conflict! . . . The bristling bayonets of thousands did not deter them, but wherever their leader pointed, there they rushed with stout hearts to do his bidding."3

Other correspondents used their letters to do little more than express hatred for the enemy. Among the stock names used by soldiers to describe Union soldiers were "vandals," "Hessians," "cruel invaders," and "bloody foe." Although such correspondence certainly had propaganda value, it had little news value. For example, in a letter for the Atlanta Southern Confederacy, one soldier described the ruins left behind after the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1863. But he proclaimed proudly that many Union troops had paid for the destruction of the Virginia town with their lives. "Like thieves they came and like dogs they are buried, their epitaphs shall not be written . . . for their deeds have proved them unfit for a place in heaven or earth," he bitterly declared.40

Yet some soldiers from Georgia could be quite candid and honest in their newspaper correspondence. For example, a letter from correspondent "G. A. L." of the Atlanta Daily Intelligencer described the numerous problems caused by Confederate officers who did not enforce discipline in the troops. He wrote bluntly, "Some portions of the army constitute nothing more than armed mobs.... There is such a thing as discipline and there is no excuse for not enforcing it. Lawlessness, drunkenness, and gambling are frequently not only known but even tolerated."41

The most honest correspondents also showed Southern troops sometimes engaging in behavior that was less than honorable. "Tivoli" described the disruption caused in his brigade by the murder of a farmer who was shot by Confederate soldiers who had been caught robbing his hen house. Every effort was being made to find the guilty men, the correspondent reported. In the meantime, some soldiers were raising money for the farmer's widow.42 After the Battle of Chickamauga, the Savannah Republican's "Tout-le-Monde" told of walking over the battlefield where most of the Confederate Army still was camped. Some of the men, he candidly wrote, amused themselves by rifling through the pockets of dead Federal soldiers. They also joked and made lewd comments upon reading love letters of Union soldiers or discovering a picture of a dead soldier's wife or girlfriend.43

It certainly required the utmost honesty for Georgia's soldier correspondents to express admiration and respect for the hated `Yankees" they were fighting against. Yet as the fighting wore on, the fairest soldier correspondents increasingly did just that. A correspondent with the Rome Courier, who was with the Confederate Army at Vicksburg, said Southern troops fought bravely but admitted that "we have a brave and determined foe to contend with." Writing from Tennessee in 1863, bJ. T. G." of the Columbus Enquirer said that despite what was being written by other journalists, many men in his company were suffering from ill health. He then took Southern correspondents to task for making statements that "blind the people at home as to our true condition." With remarkable candor, he went on to write:

It is well enough for the people to know that here, we have to fight a foe, the majority of whom are our equals in courage and physical ability; a foe who, from their cradles, are endured to hardship; a foe that can use a knife and handle a rifle with the same facility that we can. We are not fighting the blue noses on the Potoma-gainst who one good Southern man is a match for five, but we are fighting men who are our equals in courage and physical strength.45

Later in the year, gJ. T. G." paid tribute to the Federal soldiers for the great courage they displayed in attacking the entrenched Confederate lines atop Missionary Ridge during the Battle of Chattanooga. His description of the Union troops capturing the high ridge not only was remarkably candid, but it combined many of the best features of the work provided by Georgia's soldier correspondents during the war. (See box, next page)

Five years after the Civil War ended, Harper's Weekly profiled the correspondents who were reporting from the nation's capital. The nature of their work, the magazine noted, made them "unobtrusive, though prying; quiet though busy, a listener rather than a talker; the observer rather than the observed; his identity is swallowed up in that of his journal; he is known less by his name than his title."46 In many ways, that description also fits the soldier correspondents of Georgia during the Civil War. In quiet and relatively anonymous fashion, soldier correspondents provided newspaper readers in the state with vital news of nineteenth-century America's greatest event.

Soldier correspondents contributed to the modernization of Georgia's press that began during the Civil War. Unquestionably, the advances made in journalistic practices during the four years of fighting were gradual. And progress was stalled to some extent during the Reconstruction Era when so many institutions, including the press, embraced the orthodoxy of the Old South. Still, securing soldier correspondents to report on the fighting and then publishing their letters was a clear indication that the state's editors recognized the growing importance of local news to readers eager for any information on the war. Moreover, the correspondence of soldiers contained numerous characteristics of modern reporting from their candor and realism to their descriptive and human interest qualities.

Certainly, readers back home in Georgia were poorly informed by soldier correspondents intent on doing little more than glorifying the Confederate cause and expressing loathing for the hated "Yankees." Yet in many other instances, the correspondents did work that accurately portrayed a war with all its heroism, savagery, and wastefulness. Given their lack of experience and the horrific conditions they worked under during the war, it is hardly surprising that the letters supplied by Georgia's soldier correspondents suffered from shortcomings. What is remarkable is that under such circumstances, so many correspondents managed to contribute rich stories that artfully and insightfully captured a tragic civil war. Their work was clear evidence that the journalism practiced by Georgia's newspapers was indeed changing.

On they came, four lines deep, through the timber that skirts the old field. Gradually they approached our deserted trenches, halted as if to rest. A hundred cannons were throwing shells into their midst, yet not a break in their lines was visible. They were at the base of the ridge. Steep and rugged was the path they must ascend before they could hope to cope with us upon anything like equal footing. To them it certainly must have appeared that certain death awaited them; but at the word from their commanders they stepped forward with alacrity. When within about fifty yards of the top we opened a temble fire upon them with our rifles, which sent them back to the bottom of the ridge again. We continued to fire, but they reformed and came again. They soon, however, lost all organization; each man commenced firing upon his own hook, and crawling slowly toward the crest of the ridge. The firing of our troops at this juncture was rapid and temble, and in many places along the lines of the enemy their troops staggered under our destructive discharge, but with a heroism worthy of all emulation they breasted the leaden storm and planted their colors up on the top of Missionary Ridge. Zener from J. T. G., ' Columbus Enquirer, 14 April 1863, 2.


[S]tamping around in this Mississippi mud makes one feel as hungry as a wolf.... Those great golden letters about the door rant- tell of good things within that make a soldier think of home.... The smiling individual who meets you at the door evidently understands his business. Dinner for one? Yes, sir, what will you have? What have you got? Coffee. . . beef, mutton, pork, potatoes, butter and bread. A hungry man eats everything with pleasure, but this coffee certainly has a strong smell of villainous rye; and this beef is poor enough to have fasted ever since it left the verdant plains of Texas; and the butter smells as if it had made a trip from Texas too. . . . There is however, no use in grumbling about what one has eaten, and, after all, this dinner is so much better than camp fare, that you feel good and pull out pocket book with the air of a man who has benefited and wished to compensate his benefactor. What do I owe you, sir? Two dollars and a half! You are exor- And before you can finish the sentence your accommodating host begins talking in such an excited manner about paying forty cents a pound for flour, fifty cents for coffee, three dollars for butter, five dollars for coffee. . that you feel ashamed that you have said anything and are glad to beat a hasty retreat.

Columbus Daily Sun

17 February 1863


1. "Our Army Correspondence," Augusta Chronicle & Sentinel, 10 March 1863, 2.

2. "Our Army Correspondence," Augusta Chronicle & Sentinel, 5 May 1863, 2.

3. "Amnon" was typical of the soldier correspondents who wrote for a relatively brief time during the war. He sent more that twenty pieces of correspondence back to his newspaper during a five-month period in early 1863 and then his letters suddenly stopped without any notice. His identity was never revealed. 4. The most comprehensive history of war reporting, Phillip Knightley, .The First Casualty, From the Crimea to Vietnam: The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist and Myth Maker (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1975), dismisses the contributions of soldiers as not being worthy of attention. The only comprehensive study of Confederate Journalism, J. Cutler Andrews, The South Reports the Civil War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), concentrates largely on the paid, full-time reporters. The only published study of Georgia's Civil War newspapers, Rabun Lee Brantley, Georgia Journalism of the Civil War Period (Nashville: George Peabody, 1929), pays only brief attention to war reporting.

5. The newspapers of Georgia are worth examining for two reasons. First, the state was second only to Virginia among Confederate states in the number of newspapers being published when the war began. (A Compendium of the Ninth Census [Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1872], 510.) Second, Georgia's newspapers largely escaped the ravages of the war until 1864 when General William T. Sherman launched his famous campaign against Atlanta and the rest of the state. See, generally, T. Conn Bryan, Confederate Georgia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1953).

6. For a discussion of the increased emphasis on local news see, Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism vI History: 1690 1960 (New York: Macmillan, 1962), 228-52, and Hazel DickenGarcia, Journalistic Standards in Nineteenth-Century America (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 29-62. The interest in newspapers was probably best expressed by Oliver Wendell Holmes, a Union officer who would go on to become associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Toward the end of the war, Holmes remarked that, "We must have something to eat, and

the papers to read. Everything dsc we can give up." New York World, 13 April 1861, 2.

7. For more on realism in rep during the mid-eighteenth century, see Linda Patterson Ma 'Poe on the Beat: Doings of Gotham as Urban, Penny Journalism,' Journal of the Early Republic, 7 (Summer 1987): 154; Dan Schiller, Objectivity and the News: The Public and the Rise of Commercial Journalism (Philadelphia: University of Pa Press, 1981), 83-88.

8. Frederick B. Marbut, 'ESb Washington Correspondents: Some Neglected Pioneers," Joi Quarterly 25 (1948): 36974, 400; Gerald Baldasty, The Clia&zation of News in the Nineteenth Century (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992), 95; and David J. Russo, Tac Origins of Local News in the U. S. Country Press, 1840s-1870s,' Journalism Monographs 65 (1980).

9. A cartoon from the New York humor magazine Yankee Doodle poked fun at the propensity of soldiers at mid-century to send back letters home or to their newspapers. It showed several men in the heat of battle penning Iters home while their comrades were fighting (Yankee Doodle 12 Dec. 1846, 2). For a discussion of the developing trend of using dint contributors during wartime, see Ulf Jonas Bjork, "Latest from the Canadian Revolution: Early War Correspondence in the New York Herald, 1837-1838, Jounalism Quarterly 71 (Wmter 1994): 851-58. See also Thomas W. Reilly, "American Reporters and the Mexican War, 1846-1848,' (Ph.D. diss., University of Minnesota, 1975). 10. Avery O. Craven, The Growth of Southern Nationalism: 1848-1861 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1953), 408; and Donald E. Reynolds, Editors Make War, Southern Newspapers in the Secession Crisis (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1970), vii. The dependence of the Southern press on metropolitan area for news prompted the Charleston Mercury to complain in 1860, "We have to go to New York papers for news of our own affairs.'

Il. Louis Turner Griffith and John Erwin Talmadge, Georgia Journalism 1763-18SO (Athens: University of Georgia Press,1951), 47-48. The first issue of the Savannah Morning News in in January 1850 declared that the city needed a cheap, popular newspaper that would be neutral in politics. The Morning News, however, was only partly successful in achieving these goals. Although the paper's annual subscription rate was less than Savannah's other dailies, the price for the single copies never reached the "penny" level. And while the Morning News initially sought to stay out of the political arena, it soon became vigorously partisan.

12. The only correspondent from Georgia to provide consistent reporting for virtually the entire war was Peter W. Alexander of the Savannah Republican. See Ford Risley, "Peter W. Alexander: Confederate Chronicler & Conscience,' American Journalism, IS (Wmter 1998): 35-50.

13. The practice of using pen names, combined with the fact that editors rarely revealed the names of soldier correspondents, makes it extremely difficult to identify the correspondents by name with any degree of certainty.

14. "Our Correspondence,' Atlanta Southern Confederacy, 15 Jan. 1862, 2.

15. "Letter from J.T.G.," Columbus Enquirer, 8 Sept. 1863, 2. 16. Atlanta Southern Confederacy, 8 April 1864, 2. 17. More than 620,000 Americans lost their lives during the Civil War, more than in all of the country's other wars combined through Vietnam. At least one soldier correspondent from Georgia, Virgil S. Parks, was killed during the war, although with the high casualty rate, it is very likely that there were others whose deaths went unreported by their newspaper. Sergeant R. M. Grey, "Orderly" of the Columbus Enquirer, was feared killed during the

Atlanta campaign, but it was later determined that he had been captured and sent to a Northern prison camp.

18. For the role of the press in bolstering morale, see J. Cutler Andrews, "The Confederate Press and Public Morale," Journal of Soun H/story 32 (November 1966): 445-65. For the practice of letter writing by Confederate soldier of in general, see Bell Irvin Wiley, The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1943), 192-216.

19. The vast majority of soldiers' correspondence in Georgia newspapers appeared during the first three years of the war. By mid-1864, when the tide of the war had turned decidedly against the South and more than half of the state's newspapers had ceased publishing lers from soldiers were published only sporadically in the remaining papers.

20. Savannah Republican, 21 July 1863, 2. 21. SAmy Correspondence," Sandersonville Central Georgian, 8 Jan.. 1862, 1.

22. 'Special Correspondence," Columbus Times, 29 March 1864, 1.

23. "Correspondence of the Southern Confederacy,' Atlanta Southern Confederacy, 13 Jan. 1863, 2.

24. "Our Special Virginia Army Correspondent," Atlanta Southern Confederacy, 2 April 1863, 2. 25. "Army Correspondence," Central Georgia, 15 Oct. 1862, 1.

26. Augusta Constrtanonalist, 26 July 1863, 2. 27. Savannah Republican, 4 July 1863, 2. 28. Atlanta Southern Confederacy,14 July 1863, 2. 29. `Charleston Correspondence, Columbus Tanes, 18 April 1861, 2.

30. Savannah Republican, 29 Sept. 1863, 2. 31. "Battle of Fredericksburg," Augusta Constitutionalist, 23 Dec. 1863, 3.

32. Savannah Republican, 29 Sept. 1863, 2. 33. "Special Correspondence of the Times," Columbus Times, 27 Aug. 1864, 1.

34. Savannah Republican, 22 July 1863, 2. 35. Augusta Constitutionalist, 23 July 1863, 2. 36. Andrews, The South Reports the Civil War, 461. Like many of the correspondents whose reports appeared only occasionally, "Rover's identity was never revealed.

37. "Our Army Correspondence," Augusta Chronicle & Sentinel, 31 March 1863, 2. 38. Athens Southern Banner, 27 May 1863, 2. 39. "Our Special Correspondence from the Army in East Tennessee," Atlanta Southern Confederacy, 24 Jan. 1862,1. 40. "Our Special Virginia Army Correspondence, Atlanta Southern Confederacy, 7 Jan. 1863, 2.

41. 'Editorial Correspondence," Atlanta Daily Intelligencer, 12 Dec. 1862, 2.

42. "Our Army Correspondence," Atlanta Southern Confederacy, 2 April 1863, 2. 43. Savannah Republican, 6 Oct. 1863, 2. 44. "From the Cherokee Artillery," Rome Courier, 19 May 1863 2. Some correspondents seemed incapable of paying a compliment without also taking a swipe at the enemy. After the Battle of Brandy Station in Virginia, a Columbus Enquirer correspondent gave this backhanded compliment: "The cavalry forces of the Yankees are very superior troops, and fight with a spirit worthy of a better cause. 45. Columbus Enquirer, 8 Dec. 1863, 2. 46. Harper's Weekly, 7 March 1868, 146.

[Author Affiliation]

Ford Risley is an assistant professor in the College of Communication at The Pennsylvania State University.