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During the American Civil War, several newspapers remained Confederate sympathizers despite their locations being occupied by Union troops. Examining these papers, the authors explore what methods of suppression occupiers used, how occupation influenced the editorial and business sides of the press, and how occupation impacted freedom of the press.



Introduction: Occupied!

American journalists have rarely experienced enemy occupation, in large measure because most American wars have occurred across oceans and in other hemispheres. Only twice in the country’s history—during the Revolutionary War and during the Civil War—has the opportunity arisen for American journalists to try to operate newspapers under long-term enemy occupation. Other studies have examined how the press has covered military occupations, but these studies do not deal directly with how that occupation affected the press. Consequently, the literature on this topic is relatively thin. Most of what exists deals with how the United States military dealt with the press in countries it occupied in the 20th century or the use of newspapers as propaganda devices during occupation.
Debra Reddin van Tuyll, Nancy McKenzie Dupont, Joseph R. Hayden

1. “Sic Semper Tyrannis”: The Alexandria Gazette under Union Occupation

The Alexandria Gazette was one of the newspapers that refused to flee enemy occupation. Instead, it held its ground. The result was that the editors lost virtually everything they had before they war, suffered arson, arrest, and threats of exile. This chapter explains how newspapers tried to retain their Confederate sympathies while publishing under Union rule.
Debra Reddin van Tuyll, Nancy McKenzie Dupont, Joseph R. Hayden

2. “Ruling the Roost”: The Occupied Press in Civil War Chattanooga

A conventional historiographical theme of Civil War journalism is the story of Confederate newspapermen on the run. Less well-known are the itinerant Union editors who moved about for much the same reason—because they were bribed, enticed, scared, or threatened into relocating. James R. Hood was one such journalist. Appointed postmaster by Governor Andrew Johnson once federal troops retook east Tennessee, he began publishing the Chattanooga Daily Gazette in 1864, and for the next two years waved the flag for Union and Lincoln. He advocated the immediate emancipation of slaves, too, although he didn’t immediately take up the cause until more influential politicians began urging it. Hood resisted encroachments on press freedom, on his own in particular, and protested mail inspections of citizens he thought sufficiently loyal. His position in a city occupied by federal troops turned out to be a quasi-military one, and he seemed to view it that way.
Debra Reddin van Tuyll, Nancy McKenzie Dupont, Joseph R. Hayden

3. This Causeless War: The Transformation of New Orleans Newspapers during Union Occupation

New Orleans fell early in the war, just one year after Fort Sumter. Union General Benjamin “Beast” Butler silenced the Confederate voices for the most part, making way for new journalism from an affluent but disenfranchised community of Free People of Color. It was the beginning of the Black press of the south.
Debra Reddin van Tuyll, Nancy McKenzie Dupont, Joseph R. Hayden

4. Siege, Surrender and a New Age of Journalism in Occupied Vicksburg

The fall of Vicksburg produced one of the most famous newspapers of the Civil War and allowed a former Union soldier to use that press for his forceful and colorful writing. The newspaper became a staunch voice of the Union in the south, but it did not always agree with Abraham Lincoln.
Debra Reddin van Tuyll, Nancy McKenzie Dupont, Joseph R. Hayden


The experience of editors in occupied cities varied greatly from one community to the next. But, in general, martial law meant a net loss for the southern press during the Civil War. Journalists there adapted as best they could, usually through a combination of commercial opportunism and political restraint.
Debra Reddin van Tuyll, Nancy McKenzie Dupont, Joseph R. Hayden


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