The Atlanta Daily Intelligencer: The Confederate Propaganda Machine


Two weeks into the Civil Warfare, college students of the Atlanta Feminine Institute placed on a program that included a fake bombardment of Fort Sumter. The Atlanta Every day Intelligencer lined the occasion. “It grew to become needed for one of many smallest of the women to hoist america flag, and to maintain it standing till the shut of the bombardment,” the paper reported. William P. Howard, a trainer on the Institute who directed the occasion, apparently had hassle discovering a volunteer. One woman of about 10 instructed him, “No, it isn’t our flag, and I’ll by no means maintain it.” Two different younger girls additionally refused. Lastly, a reluctant flag bearer was discovered. She held the Stars and Stripes, although crying as she did so, saying that she hoped she was not disgracing herself.

This was the face of Accomplice patriotism, as reported in Atlanta’s main day by day newspaper.

The Intelligencer had been based as a weekly in 1849, changing to a day by day 5 years later. It was rivaled solely by The Atlanta Southern Confederacy, one other day by day. The rivals strove to scoop each other on large tales, such because the Nice Locomotive Chase (Andrews’ Raid) of April 12, 1862. Each papers rushed to print on how Anthony Murphy, William Fuller, and others had captured the Yankee train-thieves. Confederacy employees interviewed the 2 pursuit leaders; the Intelligencer in flip printed these people’ written statements. Each items appeared on the fifteenth. As a result of the Intelligencer obtained its morning points out early, it may need scored the news. However the lengthy Andrews article was not on the entrance web page, as one would anticipate as we speak. Readers seemed contained in the Intelligencer’s four-page structure; like most papers of the day, it put large tales on web page 2, generally web page 3 (the one which carried its “Telegraphic” column). The primary web page was principally advertisements, anyway.

The Intelligencer was one in all 844 newspapers, as counted by the Census Bureau, in what would develop into the Accomplice States of America. Georgia had 105 of them—behind solely Virginia—however that quantity counted dailies, weeklies, and the like. Furthermore, in 1860 the U.S. Census posted 3,000 subscribers to the Every day and Weekly Intelligencer, thus rating it among the many prime three papers within the state.

In contrast to as we speak’s papers, the Intelligencer’s entrance web page featured advertisements, with a lot of the necessary information relegated to pages 2-3, a few of it working within the highlighted “Telegraphic” column.
(The Every day Intelligencer)

Then, as now, a wartime paper’s chief perform was reporting the information—and readers anticipated a lot of it. John H. Steele, the Intelligencer’s editor for many of the conflict, obtained his data from a number of sources. Telegraphic dispatches had been paramount, particularly when obtained from the Warfare Division in Richmond. To make sure, these had been often very temporary—papers paid for wire reviews by the phrase.

Some dispatches proved downright mistaken. In its situation of April 8, 1862, this headline blared: “Full Victory! Nice Battle at Shiloh!” The paper had relied on the message Basic P.G.T. Beauregard despatched from the battlefield the night time of April 6, after Confederates had pushed Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal military again to the Tennessee River. “Thanks Be to the Almighty” screamed the paper’s editorial on the eighth. Even amid later reviews that Beauregard’s military had retreated to Corinth, Miss., the Intelligencer continued to crow about 8,000 Union prisoners taken, 70 cannons captured, and so forth.

And the reverse: When unhealthy information got here, it was the editor’s job to melt and spin it. Take the Intelligencer’s dealing with of Basic Joseph E. Johnston’s retreats by way of northern Georgia in 1864. After phrase got here that Johnston had deserted Dalton, Steele assured his readers: “Basic Johnston, together with his nice and invincible satellites, are figuring out the issue of battle and victory on the good chess board on the entrance.”

The Intelligencer is notable as properly for its endurance. By 1865, there have been solely 253 newspapers nonetheless functioning within the Confederacy—and of them, simply 20 had been dailies. They’d succumbed to lack of manpower when printers ran off to affix the Military; the blockade that reduce off sources of uncooked supplies; rising prices in an inflationary financial system; and—to make certain—enemy occupation of key cities similar to Memphis and New Orleans.

Then there have been the strikes by printers, demanding increased wages. Within the spring of 1864, after their employees walked out, Atlanta editors visited the town’s conscript workplace and addressed the printers’ standing. They had been exempt from the draft whereas working, the editors claimed; however now, as they had been on strike, the draft officer was inspired to draft them for Military service. The conscriptor favored the thought. “Gents,” he mentioned, “you’re undoubtedly proper. I’ll go to work directly, and as you’re right here, I’ll conscript you to start with.

“Conscript us!” exclaimed the editors.

“Definitely. As you don’t have any printers, you’ll be able to’t get out your papers. So that you now not belong to the exempted class.”

The editors raced again to their respective places of work and contacted the printers’ union. In quarter-hour, everybody was again to work.

A group of men operating a large printing press in the 19th century
Working a big printing press was onerous work. It required a minimum of two males to show the crank and produce a printed sheet of paper. Printing a whole newspaper took a very long time, with subscribers getting their paper first.
(Getty Photos)

In the course of the conflict, the Intelligencer raised its subscription costs eight occasions, from $6 a 12 months to $10 per 30 days. However, the paper survived the conflict, though in July 1864, it was compelled to flee to Macon, Ga., as Maj. Gen. William Sherman’s forces approached Atlanta. The paper returned in early December to situation a single-sheet “additional” reporting all of the harm to the town that the Yankees had wrought. “Whitehall road from Roark’s nook as much as Peachtree road is one mass of ruins,” the paper declared after returning to the town; its very places of work had been among the many ruined buildings.

The Intelligencer generally despatched discipline correspondents to the battlefront—“specials” who despatched again wires and letters relating what that they had seen and heard. After Basic Braxton Bragg expelled reporters from the Military of Tennessee simply earlier than the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, Steele was with out eyes and ears for the massive battle fought in northern Georgia. The editor strained for something and resorted to printing mere rumors introduced down by practice passengers. Within the newspaper enterprise, that is unhealthy—as Steele discovered after the Intelligencer reported, “Gen. [John Bell] Hood’s leg was amputated a long way above the knee, and it’s our painful obligation to state that he died after the operation.”

Confronted with wartime shortages and excessive costs for newsprint and ink, Southern papers discovered to improvise. One answer was to kind a press affiliation to have information telegraphed, because the Related Press in New York was now not a viable possibility. The Intelligencer carried the P.A. columns, one in all which obtained the story straight on September 22: “Gen. Hood isn’t useless.” That wasn’t the final time Steele needed to do an about-face.

Then there was the time that the Intelligencer took on President Jefferson Davis. When Steele was away in September 1864, affiliate editor Dr. I.E. Nagle penned an editorial criticizing the president for obvious neglect of Georgia’s security. In a speech delivered in Macon on September 23—whereas he was heading to satisfy with Basic Hood south of Atlanta—Davis referred to as an unnamed newspaperman “a scoundrel.” Southerners on the time and historians since have puzzled to whom the president was referring. It was Nagle. After returning to his sanctum—the editor’s favourite phrase for his workplace—Steele tried to quell the hubbub by admitting it had been his affiliate. That the president was so alarmed by the paper’s accusations was no small deal. Whether or not Davis was mollified by Steele’s confession is unsure.

In its loud, repeated predictions of Accomplice victory, the Intelligencer didn’t go fairly as far as the unidentified Johnny Reb who famously asserted, “I’ve no extra concept that the Yankees will whip us than {that a} hen can educate Latin”—nevertheless it sailed down that very same course. At one level, the paper grew so enthused on the prospect of Southern triumph that it truly started envisioning the kinds of territorial calls for the Accomplice authorities ought to actual upon a defeated North.

Equally, the Intelligencer wasn’t as vindictive as a Columbia, S.C., paper inveighing in opposition to Yankees. Upon listening to {that a} brush fireplace after the June 1864 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was burning wounded Federals, it headlined “Accomplice Victory Close to Marietta! The Yankees Roasting!” Nonetheless, in mid-August 1864, the Atlanta paper had some ugly enjoyable, upon information that 300 prisoners had died at Andersonville in someday, when it did some math: a 6,000-foot-long wagon practice to hold the corpses to the graveyard, a trench 600 ft lengthy to bury them; 120 males to dig the grave. “We thank Heaven for such blessings!” the paper exulted.

And whereas the Memphis Every day Enchantment, for instance, was unseemly in calling the enemy “azure-stomached miscegenators,” the Intelligenceradopted the phrases “ceruleans,” “cerulean abdomens,” and “bluebellies” for Federals—the latter time period apparently originated within the conflict, however its first printed use is unsure. In Might 1864, the paper mocked the enemy as “the Yankees, the horrible, nice large, bugaboo Yankees; the fellows with cerulean abdomens or azure firms.”

It might get much more rancorous. At one level, the Intelligencer claimed these bluebellies had been “gathered from all of the purlieus of effete Europe and the North” and had been in impact second-rate troopers: “Dutch immigrants, cheated Irishmen, bamboozled mongrels, depressing contrabands, miscegenating adults and brigades of foolish youths with cerulean abdomens, and a sufficiency of Yankees to leaven the entire mess with their accursed ideas of injustice and mistaken.”

As we are going to present right here, the wartime reporting within the pages of the Atlanta Every day Intelligencer offers an perception into this nation’s most devastating battle, the Civil Warfare.


From the Vault

Exploring the Atlanta Every day Intelligencer’s wartime reporting offers a telling take a look at the nation’s most devastating interval. Under are a number of capsules of various subjects the Intelligencer shared with its devoted readers between 1861 and 1865.

Unbelievable Clemency

Chivalry was not but useless within the spring of 1862, as Northern and Southern armies entered their second 12 months of conflict.

A collection of letters printed within the Intelligencer signifies that civility might nonetheless exist between gentleman officers of the opposing armies, at the same time as their troopers sought to kill one another on the battlefield.

In the course of the Battle of Seven Pines, the thirty fifth Georgia was engaged in opposition to the twentieth Massachusetts a mile north of Truthful Oaks Station. After dusk, a severely wounded officer of the thirty fifth, Lt. Col. Gustavus A. Bull, was introduced into the Union traces as a prisoner. The twentieth’s colonel, W. Raymond Lee, noticed that Bull obtained medical care. After the subsequent morning’s fight, Lee discovered that the 27-year-old Bull had died at 8 a.m. The day after that, June 2, Lee looked for the Accomplice officer’s grave, intending to position a headboard upon it. He knew its common location, round a home behind the Federal traces that had been changed into a discipline hospital, however there have been so many graves that Lee couldn’t discover the burial website of the slain Georgian.

Gustavus Bull and W. Raymond Lee
Gustavus Bull (left) and W. Raymond Lee (proper).
(Warfare of the Riot; Massachusetts Historic Society)

Two weeks later, the colonel wrote to Basic Robert E. Lee, whom he had identified at West Level (each graduated in its Class of 1829). He revealed Bull’s destiny and recommended that somebody in Accomplice Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton’s command—in opposition to whom his males had fought—would possibly know of the home and its graveyard. Basic Lee in flip had his employees officer, Main Charles Marshall, mail Colonel Lee’s letter to Bull’s father, a outstanding lawyer and Superior Court docket decide in LaGrange, Ga., providing the grieving father help in looking for his son’s grave close to Truthful Oaks. Mr. Bull requested the editor of the LaGrange Reporter, Charles H.C. Willingham, to print the letters. The Reporter obliged, and the Intelligencer adopted go well with, publishing the complete correspondence in its July 27, 1862, version.

Bull’s father by no means took benefit of Marshall’s provide of help to search for his son’s grave in Virginia. Apparently Bull’s stays had been disinterred shortly after the conflict, eliminated with these of the unknown Union useless, and reinterred in Seven Pines Nationwide Cemetery. At present a memorial within the household plot in LaGrange’s Hillview Cemetery reads: “Sacred to the reminiscence of Gustavus Adolphus Bull, whose stays lie among the many unknown useless of the battle discipline of Seven Pines.”

The Dying of a Deserter

Plenty of poignant tales discovered their approach into the Intelligencer, similar to one in regards to the execution of Personal Jacob Adams, a forty sixth Georgia Infantry deserter. As initially reported by the Charleston Courier and republished by editor John Steele on Might 18, 1863, Adams had been executed on the race course exterior Charleston, S.C. Accomplice troops and the town garrison had been fashioned below arms to witness what can be a solemn and imposing occasion. They had been joined by a crowd of residents.

Adams was marched right into a hole sq. on the race course, as a band performed a useless march. The funeral pressure performed by the convicted personal’s escort ceased when he entered the sq., solely to be taken up by the bands of a number of different instructions current.

The death of a deserter
Soldier desertion—and its generally tragic end result—was one of many topics steadily lined within the Intelligencer. Such tales tended to tug the heartstrings of readers across the globe.
(Harper’s Weekly)

Reportedly, Adams bore himself with dignity. Standing earlier than a firing squad, he obtained final rites from the Rev. Leon Fillion. He then knelt upon his coffin, crossed his arms, and, abruptly wanting up, took off his hat and threw it to his proper. Refusing to have his eyes bandaged, he seemed instantly on the execution get together and awaited the order to fireside with good calmness.

The order was given—there was a flash, a report, and Adams lay prostrate upon the bottom. A surgeon shortly examined the physique and confirmed that Adams was certainly useless.

“The execution was an terrible however needed infliction of army justice,” concluded the Courier, its author including that the troopers who had been introduced out to witness the execution, notably anybody secretly pondering likewise slipping out of the ranks, “can be returned to their regiments wiser males.”

Articles in regards to the Charleston execution can be printed as far-off as London, Liverpool, and Glasgow—together with details about Adams’ disreputable service document. An Englishman, he reportedly had abandoned from the British military and, when caught, was branded with a “D.” After immigrating to America, he had enlisted for a 12 months’s service within the 1st South Carolina Infantry. Adams was arrested, in keeping with the Accomplice assistant adjutant common in Charleston, “for trying to homicide a comrade and for different breaches of self-discipline.” Sentenced to loss of life, Adams can be spared by President Jefferson Davis, who commuted his penalty to imprisonment with ball and chain for the remainder of his time period of service.

Undoubtedly, Adams was a tough fellow. Throughout his imprisonment, “he a number of occasions tried to homicide folks although closely ironed,” the A.A.G. said. He was additionally a bounty jumper—one who enlisted, collected a bounty, after which abandoned. After his launch on September 6, 1862, he joined the forty sixth Georgia, stationed at Charleston. In October, nonetheless, he once more abandoned however was shortly caught, tried, and sentenced to execution. This time, the punishment was carried out, although not earlier than Adams spent seven months in a Charleston jail.

Adams was one in all 103,400 identified Accomplice deserters. By the efforts of generals similar to Robert E. Lee, most of these caught absent with out go away can be given lenient sentences. Certainly, solely 229 Accomplice deserters had been executed between December 1861 and the tip of the conflict. Like Jacob Adams, 204 had been by firing squad, 25 by hanging.

One ‘High quality Steed’

On September 21, 1863—the day after the Accomplice victory at Chickamauga, Ga., Nathan Bedford Forrest and his cavalry had been chasing William Rosecrans’ overwhelmed military again to Chattanooga. In the course of the working battle, Forrest’s horse was shot within the neck. The final shortly plugged his finger into the wound and stored charging. When he eliminated his finger whereas dismounting on the finish of the chase, the horse promptly fell useless.

The story is well-known. The horse’s title, Highlander, much less so.

Much less-known nonetheless is how Basic Forrest acquired Highlander within the first place. One might, after all, examine it in The Atlanta Every day Intelligencer.

Earlier that 12 months, on Might 3, Forrest and his command gained acclaim by working down Union Colonel Abel Streight and his raiders, forcing them to give up 25 miles west of Rome, Ga. The Intelligencer joined the Southern press in bestowing its accolades. Rome, in any case, was solely 55 miles northwest of Atlanta, a possible Yankee goal. It was a “sensible exploit,” the Intelligencer associated to its readers on Might 6—“a superb and dashing affair.” Forrest had bagged a bunch of “Yankee scoundrels,” asserted editor John Steele. “These marauding rascals, these devils in human form” had ridden towards Georgia “to devastate the nation, to seize and destroy Rome, Atlanta, and such bridges on the State Street, as would intrude with transportation, if not effectually to stop it.”

General Forrest with his horse
Of the greater than 20 horses Forrest rode within the conflict, Highlander wasn’t his favourite—that spot in all probability went to Roderick. Highlander’s story, nonetheless, could be essentially the most compelling of all.
(©David H. Wright/Bridgeman Photos)

Atlantans joined the citizenry of Rome in thanking Forrest. On Might 10, Steele introduced {that a} fundraising effort had begun to buy a “high quality steed” for the final. In an article titled “A Horse for Gen. Forrest,” Steele knowledgeable his readers they may come by the newspaper’s workplace to contribute. Two months later, Steele exuberantly introduced that $2,000 had been raised for that horse and one other $1,200 for an elaborate saddle, bridle, and halter. The reward was introduced to Forrest in mid-July, with the editor expressing his hope that the final would quickly be using this “splendid charger”—named “Highlander.”

Steele would get his want.

Unhappy Telegram

Twelve days after he was shot within the left arm on the second day of combating at Gettysburg, Lieutenant William Hoyle Nesbit wrote or dictated a telegram to his father in far-away Georgia.

RICHMOND, July 14—To Mr. J.W. Neisbit, care of the Intelligencer:

Pricey Father—I’m at Jordan Springs Hospital, close to Winchester. I misplaced my left arm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Come to me. Reply by telegraph. W.H. NEISBET.

The caregiver who dealt with the younger soldier’s missive apparently didn’t know the right spelling of his title and solely that he lived someplace close to Atlanta, so he despatched the telegram to the town’s main newspaper, the Every day Intelligencer.

Editor John Steele revealed the plea July 26, prefaced by a discover to readers: “The next telegraph dispatch has been obtained at this workplace. We have no idea the residence of Mr. J.W. Neisbet, to whom it’s directed, below our care, and due to this fact publish it, hoping some one will convey to him the knowledge it imparts.—ED. INT.”

Apparently nobody did, however the case of the wounded lieutenant, who turned 22 simply 10 days after his Gettysburg wound, labored out properly. On August 3, he was granted a 60-day furlough to return dwelling. He resigned from the Accomplice Military in November 1863. After the conflict, he began farming, married, and raised a household north of Atlanta. He died on the age of 83 in 1925, one in all roughly 60,000 Civil Warfare amputees.

William Hoyle Nesbit gravestone
William Hoyle Nesbit headstone
(HNA Archives)

‘Loathsome Despoilers’

An necessary function of the Accomplice press was its propagandistic capability to vilify the enemy, conjuring up particularly odious photographs of Northern troopers as destroyers of civilians’ homesteads and loathsome despoilers of truthful Southern womanhood.

Such is the imagery of a letter first revealed within the Columbus (Ga.) Occasions, and reprinted within the Intelligencer on October 25, 1864. The author, a Accomplice soldier in Hood’s military at Jonesboro, Ga., started, “If each man within the Confederacy might look again upon the desolation and destroy that mark the pathway of the Yankee military as they advance, we might then have a spirit of true concord”—that means, unity of resolve within the war-torn Accomplice States—“and the foul breath that lisps that terrible phrase, ‘reconstruction’”—that means, reunion with america—“can be hushed.” The soldier referred to “desolated properties and fields” left behind by Northern armies marching by way of the South, and “the desecrated altars from which 1000’s of ladies and kids have been ruthlessly pushed out upon the world, penniless—homeless.”

Then there was “yet another spectacle which the fiendish hearts of our invaders have wrought,” the blood-chilling scene that the author said was simply six miles from the place he sat. There an aged mom and father sat drooped with grief of their little cottage, “as soon as the scene of happiness—now distress.” Sitting beside the mother and father, as described by the Columbus Occasions’ contributor, was “a younger woman, aged about seventeen years.” She had been raped by Union troopers, “the sufferer of the hellish urge for food of those greater than devils.” The author had apparently heard the mother and father’ story in regards to the Yankees: “three of them, in broad day mild, earlier than the face of those aged mother and father, outraged her.” (Rape was a phrase seldom utilized in Victorian America.) The soldier-correspondent concluded that one had solely to see “the maniac gaze” of the troubled rape sufferer, to dismiss any considered “reconstruction or union with such folks.”

‘Warfare and Its Horrors’

Framed photo of brothers
Private accounts of household tragedy and sacrifices on and off the battlefield crammed the pages of wartime newspapers, North and South.
(Melissa A. Winn assortment)

Northern and Southern newspapers often broke free from the martial euphemism and Victorian patina that characterised correspondents’ reporting to offer readers brutal glimpses of bloody battlefields. The next account by a soldier in Robert E. Lee’s Military of Northern Virginia, written to his father in Charleston, appeared within the Intelligencer’s August 2, 1862, version:

The painful particulars of our wounded I’ll spare you, however will cross to the enemy’s facet of the sphere, the place one-half of the quantity laid; there have been males with their arms, legs, and palms shot off, our bodies torn up, options distorted and blackened. All this I might see with indifference, however I couldn’t however pity the wounded; there one poor satan, together with his again damaged, was attempting to drag himself alongside by his palms dragging his legs after him, to get out of the corn rows, which the final night time’s rain had stuffed with water; right here, one other, with each legs shot off, was attempting to regular the mangled trunk in opposition to a gun caught within the floor; there, a good haired Yankee boy of sixteen was attempting with each legs damaged, half of his physique submerged in water, together with his tooth clinched, his finger nails buried within the flesh, and his complete physique quivering with agony and benumbed with chilly. On this case my pity obtained the higher of my resentment, and I dismounted, pulled him out of the water, and wrapped him in a blanket—for which he appeared very grateful. Probably the most touching I noticed, had been a few brothers (boys), each wounded, who had crawled collectively, and one in all them within the act of arranging a heading for the opposite, with a blanket, had fallen, they usually had died with their arms round each other and their cheeks collectively. However your coronary heart sickens at these particulars, as mine did at seeing them, and I’ll stop.


This text first appeared in America’s Civil Warfare journal

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Steve Davis writes from Cumming, Ga.; Invoice Hendrick from Marietta. Their College of Tennessee Press e book The Atlanta Every day Intelligencer Covers the Civil Warfare is now obtainable.

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