False and Exaggerated Statements
Lancaster Intelligencer, May 21, 1861
Wars and rumors of wars, says a cotemporary, are no apology for exaggerated statements by journalists, who are usually not without the requisite judgment and knowledge to discern and expose errors, if they desire to do so. Since the bellicose attitude of the States scarcely a day has gone by that some monstrous story has not obtained currency.—Nearly all the journals of the country indulge in them, for the purpose of stimulating the war spirit among those who are unaccustomed to balance facts and weigh probabilities. The consequence is, that at the North and South there is a disposition to underrate the powers and capabilities of the two armies coming into the field, and even to misrepresent the vast moral and financial strength which sustains and pushes both armies toward the great conflict. Nothing but injury to the cause of peace can result from these false estimates and from the thousand exaggerations pertaining to the material of the soldiery, North and South. It is wiser to look the dangers squarely in the face. Both armies in their general character, ability and courage are worthy of the American name, and in anything but a fratricidal war might challenge the admiration of the world for the qualities they possess to make efficient soldiers. Terrible will be the result when they meet in a general conflict, for both sides will lack no spirit that will tend to make them victorious. Should they meet upon the battle field, the ministrations of peace will be, for a long time, of little or no avail, for the force that may be overwhelmed will only cause thousands upon thousands to rush into other battles to wipe out the ignominy of temporary defeat, and the victorious party will be stimulated to fiercer action, to double its honors. The time has gone by when this war is to be directed by the machinery of a political campaign, or by misrepresentations and exaggerations of trifling acts, scarcely worthy of attention.—The fearful spectacle is to be presented of armies of vast magnitude hurrying into a conflict of which the end cannot be reached by forecast or prophecy. The best blood of the two great sections of the Union is to be excited in this momentous struggle, and when the war shall have fully begun, our brethren on both sides of Mason and Dixon's line will have but little time to attend to, or to invent mere stories. The realities of the war will be beyond the inventions of facile imaginations, and will spare but little room for a continuation of the absurd, and sometimes wicked, exaggerations which have assisted in a great measure to bring the horrible calamity to our doors.