Journalism during the Civil War

The outbreak of the Civil War brought turmoil to Georgia’s press. Southern papers depended on supplies from Northern states for printing, and without those supplies, many papers ceased printing during the first year of the war. Publications that were able to survive reduced their number of pages and columns to remain in circulation. Obtaining news to print was also a challenge for publishers in Georgia and across the South, as telegraph news reports from the North were curtailed. Publishers and editors in Georgia remained committed, however, and often relied on correspondence from participants, and some newspaper reporters even visited the war front themselves. Nevertheless, their coverage quickly abandoned the unity that had existed behind secession, as many editors began to question the wisdom of continuing the war. In the later years of the conflict, newspaper publishing became increasingly difficult as supplies continued to dwindle, employees enlisted to fight, and mail services became expensive and unreliable. As the war front moved further south, refugee newspapers from other Southern states, including the Daily Chattanooga Rebel and the Memphis Daily Appeal, temporarily set up shop in Atlanta, which had become a commercial center during the war. In 1864, publishers in the path of Sherman’s march were forced to flee and often hid their printing equipment to avoid its destruction. The newspapers that managed to survive the end of the war and resume publication would have to adapt to a “New South” in the postwar years.