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Doc. 197 1/2.-treason of the newspapers.

General W. S. Rosecrans, commanding the Army of Occupation in Western Virginia, in a General Order, bearing date the 20th inst., “invites the aid of the press to prevent the enemy from learning through it the position, strength, and movements of the troops under his command.” “Such information,” he continues, “is of the greatest service to the enemy, [538] and deprives the commander of our own forces of all the advantages which arise from the secrecy of concentration and surprise — advantages which are constantly enjoyed by the rebels, whose press never appears to betray them.”

General Rosecrans is an humorist. He invites the tongue of rumor, the trumpet of common fame, the very embodiment of gossip, the thing which is nothing if not clamorous, to aid him ill holding its peace — invites it. Why does he not go forth into some of the valleys in the vicinity of his camp, and invite the echoes that inhabit the neighboring hill-sides to be kind enough to intermit their performances? We can imagine them replying to his solicitations: If we cease to tattle, what are we? Who will know that we exist? How shall we know it ourselves? How can we? Are we not vox preterea nihil? Take away the voice, and what remains?

General Rosecrans invites. It is time he did something more than invite. He and his superiors and predecessors should have commanded, and enforced obedience, from the day that active operations began. Except the rebellion itself, there has been no engine of mischief to our cause, that will bear a comparison to the newspaper press. We have put ourselves to trouble about spies, arrested men that looked suspicious, and let them go again; had visions of individuals seeking the rebel posts with letters written in cipher in their pockets, or women with plans of camps hidden away in their stockings, while a thousand newspapers from Boston to St. Louis have been each doing the work of an hundred spies-furnishing daily to the enemy the latest possible information of every movement, the size and position of every regiment and detachment, and the actual or probable policy and designs of its commanding officers. It could not but have been apparent to every man of military capacity that the war could not be carried on in the face of this minute and persistent espionage; that it was the occasion of perpetual loss and danger; that, in fact, it was placing not only each column, but the cause of the Government in daily jeopardy. What have the rebels wanted of spies, when they could find daily in the columns of a New York, Philadelphia, or Cincinnati newspaper more reliable intelligence of the very things they wanted to know than hundreds of spies could collect and transmit?

Yet these things have been tolerated; nay, they have been encouraged. Every officer from Commanding General to Corporal, has seemed to think it desirable to have the correspondent of a newspaper at his elbow, to sing his praises, put him right with the public, and be the convenient vehicle to transmit to the world a knowledge of his exploits. The very Commander-in-Chief of the army invites the editor of a New York journal to dinner, and develops to him the entire plan of a campaign, which, on the next day, makes its appearance in print, semi-editorially and semi-officially, without any suspicion of breach of confidence in the relator.

These things are profitable to the newspapers that have embarked in it. It is enterprise; and enterprise always meets with reward. The people want news more than they want victories. They can excuse, nay, reward, the newspaper which betrays as a matter of business, while they have nothing but bottled up vengeance for one that happens to differ from them in matter of opinion. We confess that we have sometimes lost all solicitude as to the fate or existence of petty spies and informers, retail dealers in smuggled butter, revolvers, percussion, and quinine, while this huge system of giving aid and comfort to the enemy has been going on, not only unrebuked, but encouraged and applauded.

General Rosecrans closes his order with a pregnant fact. They do these things differently in secessiondom. The rebels know better — have more conscience — more love for the cause in which they are engaged. Their press “never appears to betray them.” betray is the word. General Rosecrans puts it upon the right ground. He calls treason, treason. It is treason on the part of the Government in permitting it — on the part of every officer that tolerates it — on the part of every newspaper that embarks in it. Fifty millions of dollars would not compensate for the loss that has accrued from this practice, to-day. It has retarded the progress of our arms, given daily encouragement to the insurrection, constantly served to inform the rebel leaders where to strike and when to retreat, and has, in the simple fact that it has been permitted, done more to discourage friends of the Government, and throw a doubt upon its ability to come up to the mighty task that lies before it, than any other circumstance that can be mentioned.--Cincinnati Press.

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