T HE BATTLE between William T. Sherman and newsaper reporters centered on the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press. Since this issue had received practically no interpretation in previous years, both sides argued their positions with equal lack of constitutional precedent. The Civil War press believed that the Bill of Rights guaranteed the right to gather and publish news without governmental interference. Only the most blatant journalistic treason could be subjected to any action; normal news activity should be left alone. Newspapermen did not believe that war provided any justification for stifling press criticism and news gathering. The Constitution remained the same in war as in peace. Any attempt to change it was improper.
William T. Sherman did not believe that the Bill of Rights gave the press absolute freedom in peacetime let alone during war. He was convinced that newspaper rights, like the rights of every other