The Diary of Edmund Ruffin. Vol. III: A Dream Shattered, June, 1863-June, 1865 (review)
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BOOK REVIEWS279 Even more tantalizing is the fact that French switched parties in the 1850s. He first flirted with the Know-Nothings and then joined the Republicans in 1856. Why he made the switch, however, is not clear. Southern Democrats, along with Whigs, cost him his job as Clerk of the House in 1847. But he still remained a Democrat and defended slavery for at least eight more years. He admired Joshua Giddings, the antislavery Whig from the Western Reserve, more than any other congressman. But in hailing Giddings's virtues, he noted that "no one" had disagreed with Giddings more than he had. Family ties brought him close to Amos Tuck, a founder of the Republican party in New Hampshire. The turning point, however, seems to have occurred when French's brother Henry vehemently opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and President Pierce hauled French into his office, chastised him for his brother's actions, and then asked him to write a letter to a New Hampshire newsman justifying the bill. French first consented, then refused, giving one of the most convoluted explanations imaginable. From then on he had nothing but harsh words for his old friend Pierce, and within months joined the Republican party. He remained a Jacksonian at heart, however, and by the end of the Civil War was closer to Andrew Johnson, another old Jacksonian, than to Charles Sumner and the Radical Republicans. Benjamin Brown French's journal, although it leaves the reader frustrated at times, is a marvelous addition to the literature on antebellum America. Not only did French know virtually everyone in Washington from Jackson's administration to Grant's, record the most dramatic events of the day as well as mundane family problems, and view politics from the perspective of first the "dough-face" wing of the Democratic party and then the Jacksonian wing of the Republican party, but he wrote well. Now, at last, we have his comments at our fingertips. Leonard L. Richards University of Massachusetts, Amherst The Diary ofEdmund Ruffin. Vol. Ill: A Dream Shattered, June, 1863June , 1865. Edited by William Kauffman Scarborough. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989. Pp. 896. $65.00.) In the third and final volume of the Ruffin diary, William K. Scarborough continues the same meticulous and skillful editing that brought praise for the prior volumes. After an introductory overview and assessment, Scarborough divides the material into eight sections covering approximately three months each. He opens every section with a gloss listing the principal topics discussed. Through brackets in the text and through footnotes, Scarborough identifies obscure references and he unscrambles Ruffin's sometimes garbled accounts of events. Much to the reader's satisfaction, these footnotes appear at the bottom of the appropriate 280CIVIL WAR HISTORY pages rather than at the end of the volume. The index is thorough, crossreferenced, and well annotated. Scarborough provides a Civil War chronology of several pages which will be helpful to readers. As was the case previously, the editor omits from the publication extraneous and repetitious materials in the manuscript. The third volume covers the period June 1863 to June 1865 and extends the complementary themes of hatred for the Yankees and devotion to the Confederacy that characterized the earlier volumes of the diary. Although Ruffin reserved his most contemptuous remarks for Abraham Lincoln, the crusty Southerner denigrated the North in general, and Federal troops in particular. He willingly believed, for example, that Yankee soldiers routinely pilfered coffins from dead Confederates. Ruffin recorded, with credulity, a report "of bodies being disinterred by Yankees to steal the metallic coffins. These... are often needed by Yankees to receive the bodies of officers or friends killed in battle, for conveyance to the North" (479). At the conclusion of the diary, as Ruffin was making final preparations for his suicide, he penned, "With what will be near to my latest breath, I here repeat, & would willingly proclaim, my unmitigated hatred... to the perfidious, malignant, & vile Yankee race" (949). Ruffin remained passionately loyal to the Confederate cause and desperately hoped for victory even as he recognized the withering of Southern prospects. One of the most valuable features of the diary is Ruffin's commentary—always from the...


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