- The Washington Times - Friday, September 24, 2004

Newspaper writers and editors enjoyed chasing and criticizing U.S. Gen. William T. Sherman, partly because his angry responses sold more newspapers, but the newspapers of the Civil War didn’t spare other Army leaders.

Murat Halstead, editor of the Cincinnati Commercial, wrote in 1863 as Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was surrounding Vicksburg: “There never was a more thoroughly disgusted, disheartened, demoralized army as this is, and all because it is under such men as Grant and Sherman. … How is it that Grant, who was behind at Fort Henry, drunk at Donaldson, surprised and whipped at Shiloh, and driven back from Oxford, Miss., is still in command? … Our noble Army of the Mississippi is being wasted by the foolish, drunken, stupid Grant. He can’t organize or control or fight an army.”

A Philadelphia Inquirer reporter named Edward Cropsey so angered Gen. George Meade of the Army of the Potomac that, as one officer wrote, “He was placed on a horse, with breast and back boards marked ‘Libeller of the Press’ & marched in rear of [the] flag, through the army, after which he was sent North.”

Gen. Marsena Patrick, provost marshal general of the Army of the Potomac, wrote in his diary on May 10, 1863, “I have had telegraphic dispatches of all sorts during the day and one requiring all [New York] Heralds brought to the Army to be burned, on account of abusive Editorials of Gen. Hooker & Gen. Butterfield.”

A few months earlier, Patrick had written, “Another poor correspondent [Edwin F. Denyse] of the [New York] Herald was arrested this evening & Butterfield order[ed] [him] to iron & throw[n] ‘into the Guard House.’ I have sent him to Acquia but not in irons.”

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