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Book Reviews345 How did Great Britain get by widi these obvious hostilities? What kept her out of war? These questions are specifically answered by Mr. Jones. He goes into a careful study of the subject, weighing evidence, balancing conespondence, and drawing sound conclusions. His findings have been put together in a pleasant, unexcited, easy style. He explains tiiat England's main interest in securing information on the United States Navy was to maintain its own naval superiority with respect to France, which was also building ironclads. And he poses, with autiientic reference, what might have happened had die two ironclads die British were preparing for the Confederates actually been turned loose against die Union. This is a useful little book. It is clear and interesting, and reads like a scholar 's diesis. VmGrL C. Jones Centreville, Virginia Washington. Vol. I, Village and Capital, 1800-1878. By Constance McLaughlin Green. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1962. Pp. xix, 445. $8.50.) Civil War Days in a Country Village. By Colin T. Naylor, Jr. (Peekskill, N.Y.: Highland Press, 1961. Pp. 122. $4.00.) Of special interest to Civil War scholars in dus gracefully-written first volume of Mrs. Green's study of Washington, D.C, are chapters IX through XII on the nation's capital in wartime. While hardly approaching Margaret Leech's classic in respect to poignant human drama, the book successfully places the war years into the context of Washington's long-run urban evolution . Although covering much of the same material as the former author, Mrs. Green understandably sacrifices now-familiar matters like Rose Greenhow 's imprisonment or die complexities of Lincoln's command problems for attention to such tilings as the threatened loss of the seat of government, the vexations of school-system finance, and the "contraband" impact on die indigenous Negro community. Mr. Naylor's slim volume is an examination of wartime Peekskill, New York, which today fies just above the New York City complex but was then a small manufacturing and mercantile center in a rural setting. More a collection of community miscellany than a formal study, the book contains chapters on various aspects of its subject, the best of which discuss taxation and enlistment problems. It is amusing to contrast the wartime experiences of these two communities —one die feverish metropolis, the other a remote town of 4,000. Of the two, Washington alone faced war-augmented crises over water supply, sanitation, crime, schools, defense, disposition of dead and wounded, and Negro refugees. But they had otiier problems in common. Suspected disloyalty was one. By 1863 most of Washington's Southern sympathizers, concludes Mrs. Green 346CIVIL WAR history (p. 287), "were in jail or had departed to more congenial climes," although the city's original bad repute lingered on. While Peekskill's region remained an anti-Republican stronghold diroughout the war, its alleged "secesh" elements were stifled informally but decisively. The town's Democratic, anti-war editor, alarmed by threats, suffered a complete mental breakdown less than two weeks after the start of hostilities. Under new management his paper adopted a less outspoken tone. Later most townsfolk apparently were far from pleased on hearing that one native son—a West Pointer—had defected to the Confederacy. Another such problem was taxation. Wartime income taxes were bad enough. Local levies, boosted by enlistment bounties, also climbed alarmingly . In Washington by 1864 they stood at 1 per cent of assessed property valuation; at the same time the township taxes in Peekskill's county threatened to approach 2& to 4 per cent. The economic base initially slumped in both places. At Washington most war contracts were let to large northern companies rather than local firms. But by 1862 a wartime boom in real estate, transportation, lodging, food, and other consumer goods and services had begun. Peekskill's flourishing plow factory closed in 1861, nearly two-thirds of its trade having been with the South. Local foundries expanded with improved conditions after 1863, although they held few if any government contracts. "The war had littie effect on the merchant class," reports Naylor (p. 22), "except to increase their business and profits." The town's businessmen remained on hand to capitalize, virtually all...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 345-346
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
N
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