- Andersonvilles of the North: The Myths and Realities of Northern Treatment of Civil War Confederate Prisoners (review)
- Southwestern Historical Quarterly
- Texas State Historical Association
- Volume 113, Number 2, October 2009
- pp. 267-268
- View Citation
- Additional Information
20ogBook Reviews267 especially true after 1868, when Union occupation troops were vastly diminished and relegated to the Indian frontier. A lack of manpower enabled Taylor Ring associates to run roughshod over Soudi Texas as bounty hunters, vigilante groups, county sheriffs, and others chased after them dirough more than forty counties. Between 1 870 and 1873 the ephemeral Texas State Police (40 percent were freedmen ) were expected to fill the void left by the removal of the army but were stifled by racist attitudes and litde public support. In the end, it was a resurgent Democratic Party that repealed the State Police Law in 1873, leaving law enforcement to local and county officials. In this complicated landscape, deciding who were the good guys or bad guys depended on where one stood on the Civil War. Under Republican domination the Democrats tolerated the terror and violence ofanti-Union elements. Once back in power, the new government reintroduced the state militia, which had a force of 3,500 men to assist local authorities and the state police in ending the decades-long crime wave. Smallwood's scrupulous use of a wide range of primary resources and colorful vignettes will ensure this book finds a wide-readership with both general and academic audiences. The book is chock-full of memorable characters such as the Taylor brothers, John Wesley Hardin and Texas Ranger Leander McNeIIy. At the end of the book there is a helpful appendix listing 197 men who took part in these activities between 1850 and 1880. This book is an important contribution to post-Civil War Texas history, but, it could have benefited from an analysis of recurrent domestic terrorism in this region, particularly in the current age we live in. Smallwood makes numerous references to "terrorist Klan groups," "Klan-like groups," and "Klan-like terrorist groups," but never identifies any specific organizations or explains their development or recrudescence. While TL· Feud that Wasn't is an accomplished work and an important contribution to post-Civil War Texas history, it will not be the final word on this complicated era in Texas history. Sam Houston State UniversityMitchel P. Roth Andersonvilles of tL· North: TL· Myths and Realities of Northern Treatment of Civil War Confederate Prisoners. By James M. Gillispie. (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2008. Pp. 286. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 9781 57441255°. $24-95 cloth.) Few aspects on the American Civil War are the subject of as much popular misconception as the issues surrounding prisoner of war camps. Margaret Mitchell's classic Gone with tL· Wind (1936), MacKanlay Kantor's Andersonville (1955), and the sizable amount of academic literature on the subject generally arouse strong emotions among readers. These works have long shaped our understanding and biases of Civil War-era prisons, and James M. Gillispie's new book Andersonvilles of tL· North serves as a revisionist examination of this traditionally controversial topic. Gillispie's book functions on multiple levels. His main goal is to provide an updated and reconsidered explanation of Federal prison operations and how 268Southwestern Hhtorical QuarterlyOctober northern officials treated their Confederate captives. Challenging both the prevailing scholarly and popular views that Union officials were deliberately brutal and negligent in the care and attention provided to soudiern soldiers, Gillispie argues that northern policies "were considerably more humane and reasonable in their treatment of Confederate prisoners tiian commonly thought" (5). The book also provides a multi-chapter analysis of myth and fact pertaining to wartime prisons that has evolved in northern and southern literature ever since the guns fell silent in 1865. Relying almost exclusively on leading contemporary sources such as die Official Records (1880-1901), Medical and Surgical Hütory of tL· War of tL· Rebellion (1870-1888), and numerous Union and Confederate diaries, Gillispie discounts die reliability of postwar accounts, maintaining that they have obscured reality and helped contribute to many of the misconceptions regarding Nordiern prison camps. The audior thus adopts a recendy growing tradition among many Civil War scholars who choose not to use reminisces and memoirs because of dieir polemical nature. Gillispie claims that a cursory reading of these accounts reveals diat they were exploited for political and social purposes by nordierners...