Because Sherman wasn’t the last general to bash the press, American Heritage asked one of the United States’s most outspoken newspaper editors, Benjamin C. Bradlee of the Washington Post, to read the letters published here.
“General Sherman’s relations with the press were already legendary,” Bradlee commented. “In fact, they were lousy. After all, he arrested and court-martialed a reporter for the New York Herald, which was the principal supporter of President Lincoln.
“But these letters show new talents for invective. Generals who can write always make me nervous.
“From today’s vantage point, the press seems to have been way out of line, unaware that their dispatches were given vital information to the Confederate generals.”
On the other hand, Bradlee hopes today’s critics of the press don’t take too much comfort from Sherman’s diatribes. The vast majority of newsmen agree on secrecy before and during a battle but insist on full disclosure of the facts and meaning as soon as possible afterward.
Meanwhile, Bradlee hopes “the current crop of press bashers don’t read all of these letters.”