I would like to approach the matter of Stars and Stripes’ birth gracefully, but there is no grace in it. How can a newspaper predicated on the basis of hope and freedom allow the paper to be named by those soldiers of Illinois regiments charged with securing the town of Bloomfield, Mo., when they, instead, looted the town on Nov. 8, 1861?
It is played down in the historical account that soldiers from the 18th Illinois Infantry Regiment took it upon themselves to raid the offices of the local Bloomfield Herald. The owner, James O. Hull, retreated from the town with Confederate Brig. Gen. M. Jeff Thompson’s forces. Did Hull leave permission on his printer’s desk stating, “Do what you want with my facility”? No, he did not. So members of the 18th Illinois stole his ink, his paper and made use of his printing presses without his consent; thus the paper was illegally produced. Hull was not a member of the Confederate army.
In Stars and Stripes’ own history of the publication no mention is made of the looting in Bloomfield on Nov. 8, 1861. Again, nothing is said about the severity of the situation that compelled the commanding officer, Col. Richard J. Oglesby, to send a police force to quell the looting in Bloomfield. One soldier present thought it “disgusting.” By extension of the looting in the stores, so too did the Union soldiers loot the newspaper office and propagate a view in the newly printed Stars and Stripes a unionist stance that was printed using material and equipment that was stolen.
I say in the interest of truth that it is incumbent upon Stars and Stripes to provide an accurate and aboveboard account of its genesis, and that that information should be listed in its history on its Web site, in all histories in print and any and all other mediums.
As it stands now, it is a false history and Stars and Stripes’ first one-page publication, nothing more than a broadsheet, is absent any liberty and is a blight on the American military and an embarrassment to American journalism as a whole.
So, I say with respect, what will Stars and Stripes do about correcting a revisionist history furthered between your pages?
Christopher RobertsNew York