If they only knew what really happened at Gettysburg...July 6, 1863, The Richmond Daily Dispatch

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JohnW.

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The battle of Gettysburg
It is difficult to say, from the accounts which we publish to-day, (all Yankee, of course) what portion, or whether all of our army was engaged. We presume, however, that it was only a portion, as the main body is supposed not to be in the immediate neighborhood of Gettysburg.
It is evident to us, at any rate, that our troops have grinned a great victory. The Philadelphia Inquirer cannot conceal the fact, although it lies with an order and an earnestness that deserved better success. We are told, in the first place, that "our troops"--to wit, the Yankee troops — maintained their position in Gettysburg, in spite of the most obstinate attempts on the part of the rebels to capture it. A paragraph or two lower, we are told that at the "end of the battle" the rebel cavalry made a dash through the town, capturing all the sick and wounded, stores, &c. Now, dashing through a town, which the enemy has held during a severe battle, to ordinary comprehensions, certainly means that the town was carried and left in the rear by the victorious party in their pursuit of a flying enemy. Again, we are told that the "rebels" were triumphantly beaten back. But a little farther on we discover that towards the close of the action these same "rebels" made an attack upon one of the enemy's flanks, and that he fell back a mile, fighting valiantly, of course, as Yankees always do--on paper.--Lastly, the Yankees say the affair is "indecisive," which is proof enough that they have been badly beaten. Had it--really been indecisive, they would have claimed a decided victory. It is only necessary to remember what McClellan did at Sharpsburg to be convinced of this. That affair was anything but indecisive McClellan was beaten with immense slaughter. He retreated in the night, and the next day Gen. Lee could hear nothing of him; although he shelled all the woods in the neighborhood to start him from his covert. Had Gen. Lee followed him, beyond a question he would have continued his retreat. But the force of that General was too feeble, in comparison with the enormous Yankee army, to justify the risk. After holding the battle field twenty-four hours he withdrew, and McClellan, learning the fact by his scouts, sneaked up, occupied it, and wrote: "I think I may now say that we really have gained a victory." He was so crippled, in the meantime, that he would not follow, and was removed for not doing what was impossible. Can any one doubt, after this, that when the Yankees say an affair is indecisive, they are in fact badly whipped?

But if they are not whipped, why do they shout so vociferously for reinforcements?

The Baltimore American tells us that up to Thursday they had captured 6,000 prisoners. but it accounts for only 800, although General Schenck announces that 1,500 more were to come on. On Thursday there was no general battle, but heavy skirmishing, in which 5,000 prisoners, making 11,000 in all, were captured. The gallant Dutchmen who distinguished themselves by running so at Chancellorsville, it seems, demolished Longstreet's corps and captured a thousand prisoners. These lies are for gross even for Yankee credulity.

The fact seems to be that a division of the army has kept the whole Yankee force at bay two days, and that Gen. Lee is rapidly concentrating in the neighborhood of Gettysburg In a few days we expect to hear that Meade's army has been defeated, and probably annihilated.




The Daily Dispatch: July 6, 1863. Richmond Dispatch. 2 pages. by Cowardin & Hammersley. Richmond. July 6, 1863. microfilm. Ann Arbor, Mi : Proquest. 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm.


The fog of war at it's finest
 
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nitrofd

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That was very amusing to read with such inaccuracies. Did Jeff Davis himself write that?
Yesterday I was reading stories for the four days after the battle of Chickamauga and there were about 20 different ones and on the same page one was telling the opposite of the other.
Kinda makes you think of the Times motto "all the news that's fit to print".
 

Pvt.Shattuck

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The article reminds me of "Baghdad Bob", Saddam's spokesman during the invasion of Iraq.
Here's another example of a Civil War newspaper gettin' it all wrong, only from the Union side.
It's 1862 and McClellan is "at the gates of Richmond."
Battle of Richmond.jpeg
McClellan.jpeg

Or not.
 
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E_just_E

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There was a lot of confusion in the reporting of the Battle of Gettysburg, for sure. Part of the problem was that it was 3 days long and each day had a different conclusion: The first was a Confederate victory, the second a draw, and the third a Union victory. Reports after day 1 that appear 3-4 days later (e.g July 4th or 5th) which speak about a Confederate victory are quasi-accurate. This particular bit is interesting. Re-quoting:

we are told that at the "end of the battle" the rebel cavalry made a dash through the town, capturing all the sick and wounded, stores, &c. Now, dashing through a town, which the enemy has held during a severe battle, to ordinary comprehensions, certainly means that the town was carried and left in the rear by the victorious party in their pursuit of a flying enemy

Sub "infantry" for "cavalry" up there, and this bit exactly describes what happened late in Day 1. The interesting part was that the Union troops never held the town before the Confederates left, and indeed Gettysburg was under Confederate occupation during the battle. However, that was a faulty assumption, by the newspaper crew, since the Union held the heights South of town and not the town.

Frankly the confusion and misinformation about the battle is the rule here as far as newspaper reporting went and it was not fixed until some of the official military reports came out (what we call now Official Reports). On the Union side there was regular official and "semi-official" correspondence regarding the battle between reporters and Union Officers (not unlike today's press conferences.) Not sure how frequent they were, but, for example, on July 3rd there is a "semi-official report" that was issued at 5 PM and an "official report" that was issued at 7:15 PM. I suspect that the "semi-official" bit is what we would call today an unplanned informal communication by a Union Army Officer, while the "official" is the equivalent of a planned press communication. FWIW, both of these reports are very good in assessing the situation. Not sure when they made it South though. I have seen the official 7:15 report in an OH paper printed on the 7th and a VT paper printed on the 11th, so it would have taken some time. In addition to that official correspondence, there were "eyewitness" reports by particular newspaper reporters. Those are typically point-of-view reporting and as far as micro things that the reporter could actually see are great, but as far as macro things, like the state of the battle, are not...

A meta analysis on reporting during the civil war would be a fascinating read, for sure...
 

JohnW.

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I have been spending a lot of time lately read those old newspapers and this is a quite common thing.
Yep... it wasn't just southern newspapers...the northern papers were just as misinforming. And in both north and south embellishing news from the front was epidemic. The best face had to be put on failures to try and keep morale high on the home front.
 

JohnW.

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There was a lot of confusion in the reporting of the Battle of Gettysburg, for sure. Part of the problem was that it was 3 days long and each day had a different conclusion: The first was a Confederate victory, the second a draw, and the third a Union victory. Reports after day 1 that appear 3-4 days later (e.g July 4th or 5th) which speak about a Confederate victory are quasi-accurate. This particular bit is interesting. Re-quoting:

we are told that at the "end of the battle" the rebel cavalry made a dash through the town, capturing all the sick and wounded, stores, &c. Now, dashing through a town, which the enemy has held during a severe battle, to ordinary comprehensions, certainly means that the town was carried and left in the rear by the victorious party in their pursuit of a flying enemy

Sub "infantry" for "cavalry" up there, and this bit exactly describes what happened late in Day 1. The interesting part was that the Union troops never held the town before the Confederates left, and indeed Gettysburg was under Confederate occupation during the battle. However, that was a faulty assumption, by the newspaper crew, since the Union held the heights South of town and not the town.

Frankly the confusion and misinformation about the battle is the rule here as far as newspaper reporting went and it was not fixed until some of the official military reports came out (what we call now Official Reports). On the Union side there was regular official and "semi-official" correspondence regarding the battle between reporters and Union Officers (not unlike today's press conferences.) Not sure how frequent they were, but, for example, on July 3rd there is a "semi-official report" that was issued at 5 PM and an "official report" that was issued at 7:15 PM. I suspect that the "semi-official" bit is what we would call today an unplanned informal communication by a Union Army Officer, while the "official" is the equivalent of a planned press communication. FWIW, both of these reports are very good in assessing the situation. Not sure when they made it South though. I have seen the official 7:15 report in an OH paper printed on the 7th and a VT paper printed on the 11th, so it would have taken some time. In addition to that official correspondence, there were "eyewitness" reports by particular newspaper reporters. Those are typically point-of-view reporting and as far as micro things that the reporter could actually see are great, but as far as macro things, like the state of the battle, are not...

A meta analysis on reporting during the civil war would be a fascinating read, for sure...
It didn't help the correspondents from Richmond, Charleston et al that their stories had to sent back south by couriers, whereas the northern folks had the benefit of transmitting their stories via the telegraph. I believe the first news of the battle appeared in the Richmond rags about July 5.
 
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It makes you wonder if public moral was the goal? So many families had sons, husbands, fathers and brothers in far-off Pennsylvania you just know their worry must have been excruciating.

Here's a shorter version from a SC paper, July 10th. No idea why it refers to Martinsburg.

View attachment 119061
View attachment 119062
View attachment 119063
JPK- Martinsburg (across the Potomac) was likely the closest "friendly" (Southern) telegraph station they could send dispatches from.
 

TerryB

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I've seen Northern paper headlines in which they say Lee was invading with an army of 200,000 men. That sounds like Pinkerton at his best or worst.

There were "embedded" journalists with Southern armies who wrote unvarnished accounts, highly critical of the generals involved. Bragg had one of them thrown in jail.
 
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civilken

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I guess if you're in the South and you have heard that general grant has taken the stronghold in Mississippi you need some good luck somewhere. PS my Dragon will not use the V word for some reason so I'll leave it at Mississippi.
 
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Bruce Vail

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I have been spending a lot of time lately read those old newspapers and this is a quite common thing.
Common, too, for individual Confederate soldiers to report misinformation back home. On my desk is a letter from a young Confederate captain to his father in North Carolina that makes it sound like the Rebels were the victors at Gettysburg. He reports back to the father some camp gossip about the terrible losses suffered by the Yankees, compared to the modest casualties of the Confederates.
 
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nitrofd

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Common, too, for Confederate soldiers to report misinformation back home. On my desk is a letter from a young Confederate captain to his father in North Carolina that makes it sound like the Rebels were the victors at Gettysburg. He reports back to the father camp gossip about the terrible losses suffered by the Yankees, compared to the modest casualties of the Confederates.
I have seen many clippings about the Confederate victory at gettysburg.this occurred in many other battles as well.shiloh may have had more listed then any other and Stones River was another one.
 
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