Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 30, 1861 (Sunday): The Press Is Too Accurate

Library of Congress
                                    HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
                                                Manassas Junction, Jun 30, 1861.
Hon. L. P. Walker
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
    SIR: Your letter of the 29th instant is received.  By the inclosed copy of a letter to General Bonham it will be seen that I had already called his attention to the absolute necessity of stopping any information to the newspapers relative to the strength  or intended operations of this army, for, as I tell him, “secrecy in war is half the victory.”  Unfortunately I find that our regulations do not forbid such publications, and I think the War Department ought to provide for this deficiency as soon as practicable, as well as preventing newspaper reporters from coming within several miles of the lines of an army in the field and in the presence of an enemy.  I have thus far been most industriously circulating exaggerated reports of the strength of the army under my command, and the correspondence referred to has probably destroyed the results of my labors.   The Department may then judge of the disappointment I experienced when the subject was called to my attention.
    I remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                G. T. BEAUREGARD,
                                                Brigadier-General Commanding

Beauregard complains of two articles in the Charleston Mercury which contained accurate information as to the condition and location of his forces.  One of the articles purports to be an extract from the letter of a member of Bonhams’s staff, the other from a correspondent in the field.

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