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Book Review: An Atlanta Newspaper’s View of the Civil War

Ask any hardcore researcher about their method and you will learn how much they value newspapers as a primary source. The coverage of momentous national and local events, opinion and advertisements is a gold mine of material. This is not surprising, as a free press is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment—and newspapers held a virtual monopoly on news during the 19th century.

One newspaper, the Daily Intelligencer of Atlanta, is representative of the Southern press during the war period. It is a fitting publication to examine because of its role in reporting the news and shaping public opinion. Authors Stephen Davis and Bill Hendrick reveal the impact of this newspaper in The Atlanta Daily Intelligencer Covers the Civil War.

Davis brings a depth of knowledge about the city during the war years through his books, including Atlanta Will Fall: Sherman, Joe Johnston, and the Yankee Heavy Battalions. Hendrick, a journalist who spent much of his career as a reporter and editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, brings his newsroom experience to bear. Together, they tell a compelling story about the Intelligencer. 

The book is organized in 46 chapters, beginning with two sections highlighting the backstory of the publication, including its staff and offices. The remaining chapters spotlight the military and political issues from 1861 to 1865. 

The expertly written narrative flows smoothly, guiding readers effortlessly from chapter to chapter while remaining true to the spirit of the original reporting.

Intelligencer, a common term in 19th century newspaper nameplates, is defined as a “conveyor of information.” As you’ll learn in this book, the Daily Intelligencer was this and much more. Its daily issues, each a snapshot of a society impacted by an unprecedented level of political polarization with devastating military consequences, still echo the urgency and uncertainty of the times with a Southern flavor. Pick up a copy for your library.

The Atlanta Daily Intelligencer Covers the Civil War
By Stephen Davis & Bill Hendrick
560 pages
University of Tennessee Press
Hardcover (available through major booksellers and

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