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94CIVIL WAB HISTORY Of special interest is the episode concerning die Union's General David Hunter , who in March, 1862, was placed in command of die Sea Islands along die Southern coast. Almost immediately General Hunter began making plans for training and arming Negroes. One of his first moves was his decree (issued witfiout Lincoln's knowledge and later declared void) that "persons in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, heretofore held as slaves, are . . . declared forever free." Without further delay General Hunter began die conscription which later made him infamous, ordering his district commanders to send to his headquarters all available able-bodied Negroes. As aresult, many Negroes were forced to leave their homes and join Hunter's troops. This measure embittered both the Negroes and the administration, but the persistent general made several more attempts to establish the first Negro regiment in the Union army. His methods were crude and eventually he lost his fight with Congress on this issue, but the fact remains that he succeeded in bringing the matter to public attention. Lorenzo Thomas, Owen Lovejoy, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, James Montgomery , and James Beecher were others who helped decrease racial barriers, and each is given due attention in this volume. As Mr. Cornish unravels the problem, he adopts a conversational tone (a refreshing technique in historical literature ) which carries with it the implication that the author actually knew all these men. What the fluent tone really means, probably, is that the author's research was so extensive that he writes about these men with direct, intimate, verifiable assurance. Similar techniques have often failed in other works, but Mr. Cornish has eminendy succeeded. The author's major emphasis is given to the actual setting up of Negro battalions duringthe later waryears, and much space is devoted to the smaller problems that arose after Negroes were accepted as combat troops. One point not fully exploited by the author, however, is the Negro's viewpoint of the war and of the various situations in which he found himself. True, there are a few references to his general attitude, and there is considerable mention of the frank, hopeful ideas of Frederick Douglass, Negro editor and publisher of Douglass' Monthly in Rochester, New York. But seldom is there a factual indication of the attitudes of those Negroes who actually wanted to fight. This is not to criticize Mr. Cornish, but it is a point which might intrigue the readers of A SaWe Arm. Perhaps some future historian will give closer and fuller attention to such attitudes of Negro slaves and freemen. If so, he must be grateful to Mr. Cornish for paving the way. WILLIAM F. DONALDSON Iowa City, Iowa. Reminiscences of Big I. By William Nathaniel Wood. Edited by Bell Wiley. (Jackson, Tennessee: The McCowat-Mercer Press. 1956. Pp. xxviii, 138. $3.95.) the author of this volume began his civTL war service in July of 1861 as a private in the Monticello Guard, Company "A," 19th Virginia Regiment, Confederate States of America. Elected a lieutenant early in 1862, he served at that rank to the end of the war. He saw action in over a dozen engagements, among Book Reviews95 diem Gettysburg: "Up Cemetery Hill we start. Grape and canister scour die ground. Down! down! go the boys. The remainder press forward. The enemy's line—a stone and dirt wall—is just in front. Suddenly . . ." The quotation represents Lieutenant Wood's most highly charged prose. For the most part, his accounts of battlefield action—usually brief—consist radier of straightforward, low-keyed description, seldom colored by emotion and so severely restricted to what his company alone did as to make the lack of a frame of reference obtrusive. To a lesser extent, the same holds true for Wood's descriptions of camp life in Company "A," although here he does provide a great deal of homely detail—and regularly interjects anecdotes which, 30 years after their occasion, seemed to him worth retelling. AU of them may not seem so to today's reader. None of the foregoing is intended as adverse criticism. In his memoir, Wood did what he set out to do. Simple and uninspired as the result...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 94-96
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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