How much influence did newspaper editors have on the Civil War?

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Editors like Robert Barnsell Rhett of the Charleston Mercury influenced how the war was fought. Newspapers of the Civil War era were not overly objective and the newspapers often were associated with a political parties. Editors often allowed their personal views to creep in to how thier newspapers reported the news. This gave the editors tremendous power. Often instead of just reporting the news, editors attempted to shaped the events about to occur.

But just how much did these editors impact the war? It does appear that newspaper editors could make or break a general. By helping to shape who the generals were, the editors could have a huge influence on the war. So what is your opinion on this subject?
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
I wholeheartedly agree. Some editors were opinionated enough to get themselves killed (Daniel of the Richmond Enquirer comes to mind). Are we discussing Southern or Northern Editors? They seem equally as opinionated.

I hope we can discuss both the Southern and Northern editors. It appears to me that some Northern editors attempted to destroy generals they did not like. This might be justified if the general deserved it, however some editors seemed to attack generals because the political party the general associated with was different than the political party of the editor. It also appears that some editors had old scores to settle and were not above using their position to do so.
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Newspaper editors gave away secrets, influenced public opinions, and were vociferously opinionated. They did subject politicians to abuse as well. So the object of stamping out the 'loose tongue' to quell public temperament and keep secrets closer to the heart put both governments in a bind. It may have affected the writ of Habeas Corpus too, just how far a government could push back when in dire straits.
Lubliner.
 

19thOhio

Private
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Stark county, Ohio, had two newspapers, the Stark County Democrat nd the Stark County Republican. The Stark county Republican had extensive coverage of the day-to-day activities and well of battles from embedded reporters or letters home from both the infantrymen and officers. Coverage included 19th Ohio, 13th Ohio, 104th Ohio and others. I really didn't pay much attention to the political views.

The Stark County Democrat had very little coverage of those events as far as I could find. What does that mean??
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
I hope we can discuss both the Southern and Northern editors. It appears to me that some Northern editors attempted to destroy generals they did not like. This might be justified if the general deserved it, however some editors seemed to attack generals because the political party the general associated with was different than the political party of the editor. It also appears that some editors had old scores to settle and were not above using their position to do so.
Some Northern editors also tried to destroy Lincoln. Manton Marble of the New York World (Fitz John Porter's pen pal) is one. Marble actually played a role in helping fuel the 1863 Draft Riots.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Without doubt, the most influential northern editor and publisher was the New York Tribune's Horace Greeley. He was behind the "On To Richmond" campaign which helped force Lincoln's hasty move in the summer of 1861 that led to the failed battle of Bull Run. Greeley was a strong proponent of abolition, and constantly prodded the Lincoln administration to move in that direction. His famous editorial "Prayer of Twenty Millions" prompted Lincoln to respond with his own measured call for ending slavery only if it would advance the cause of Union.
 

shooter too

Private
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
Newspapers were by far the primary source for news. Most were very partisan.

I would reference the Hearst and Pulizter newspapers, that led up to the Spanish-American War--Yellow journalism.

https://history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/yellow-journalism

What once was old is not really new again, but continuing in a different way in the social media age. One just has to have the discernment to figure out what are lies vs truth. But that might give a hint upon which way I lean.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Many Northern towns had two or more newspapers Usually one newspaper was considered a Democrat newspaper and another a Republican newspaper. I assume the border states were much the same. I can not speak with any authority about if towns in Southern states had both a Democrat newspaper and a Republican newspaper.
 
From Harper's Weekly August 3, 1861 Battle of Bull Run with Field-Marshall Greeley:

Field-Marshall Greeley 8-3-61 Harpers Weekly.jpg
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Without doubt, the most influential northern editor and publisher was the New York Tribune's Horace Greeley. He was behind the "On To Richmond" campaign which helped force Lincoln's hasty move in the summer of 1861 that led to the failed battle of Bull Run. Greeley was a strong proponent of abolition, and constantly prodded the Lincoln administration to move in that direction. His famous editorial "Prayer of Twenty Millions" prompted Lincoln to respond with his own measured call for ending slavery only if it would advance the cause of Union.
Lincoln understood that Greely controlled a vast amount of influence over the population in New York, and overseas. The prominent newspapers that were read by the Parliament and the French Republic could persuade those countries on how much attention they should spend with the crisis here in America.
Lubliner.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Lincoln understood that Greely controlled a vast amount of influence over the population in New York, and overseas. The prominent newspapers that were read by the Parliament and the French Republic could persuade those countries on how much attention they should spend with the crisis here in America.
Lubliner.
I had not really thought about how much influence American newspaper editor had overseas, but this is true.
 

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
I can not speak with any authority about if towns in Southern states had both a Democrat newspaper and a Republican newspaper.

The Republican Party was practically non-existent in the South, but there would have been Whig-aligned papers.

The divide between pro and anti Jeff Davis newspapers in the Confederacy is probably a good indicator about the basis for postwar political parties in the CSA, had it won the war.
 

connecticut yankee

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 2, 2017
Historians today would wholeheartedly agree that the most influential people in 1860's influencing public opinion regarding any aspect of the war fell into one of four categories. I list them in no particular order:

1. Politicians (Government)
2. Academians (Colleges)
3. Orators (Prominent Public Speakers)
4. Newspaper Editors (Written Press)
 
Top