The anniversary of the Civil War is also the anniversary of journalism in America.
Don Bracken has written a book called the “The Words of War” in which he tells how The Charleston Mercury newspaper presented the Southern Confederacy’s viewpoint and The New York Times sided with the Union.
An example from The Charleston Mercury on April 13, 1861:
Two companies of volunteers passed THE MERCURY office at three o yesterday, with their banners flying, and tendered us a salute, for which we return our compliments…
The Battery, the wharves and shipping in the harbor, and every steeple and cupola in the city, were crowded with anxious spectators of the great drama. Never before had such crowds of ladies without attendants visited our thoroughfares.
Bracken juxtaposes the reports of the New York Times and the Charleston Mercury newspapers and then rectifies them with historians’ accounts.
Ironically, messages were dispatched quickly via telegraph, much like reporting via Twitter these days. In an interview with South Carolina Radio Network’s Ashley Byrd, Bracken tells about how the grim realities of war spurred more factual reporting.
AUDIO: Bracken discusses his new book (12:00)
Historical writer Don Bracken lives in Palisades, New York