Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Newspaper coverage of the Civial War: journalists report on the Battle of Gettysburgh

During the American Civil War, Whitelaw Reid was a war correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette. In his coverage of the Battle of Gettysburg, he relates the following story wherein he encounters fellow journalist L.L. Crounse while enroute to Taneytown, Maryland to meet the newly installed commander of the Army of the Potomac, General George Meade. Reid writes:

In a plain little wall-tent, just like the rest, pen in hand, seated on a camp-stool and bending over a map, is the new " General Commanding" for the army of the Potomac. More... Tall, slender, not ungainly, but certainly not handsome or graceful, thin-faced, with grizzled beard and moustache, a broad and high but retreating forehead, from each corner of which the slightly- ciirling hair recedes, as if giving premonition of baldness — apparently between forty-five and fifty years of age — altogether a man who impresses you rather as a thoughtful student than as a dashing soldier — so General Meade looks in his tent.

"I tell you, I think a great deal of that fine fellow Meade," I chanced to hear the President say, a few days after Chancellorsville. Here was the result of that good opinion. There is every reason to hope that the events of the next few days will justify it.

A horseman gallops up and hastily dismounts. It is a familiar face — L. L. Crounse, the well- known chief correspondent of the New York Times, with the army of the Potomac. As we exchange hurried salutations, he tells us that he has just returned from a little post-village in Southern Pennsylvania, ten or fifteen miles away ; that a fight, of what magnitude he cannot say, is now going on near Gettysburg, between the First corps and some unknown force of the enemy ; that Major-General Reynolds is already killed, and that there are rumors of more bad news.

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