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The book has an attractive jacket, readable print, a serviceable bibliography and an index. Footnotes are conveniently placed at the bottom of pages. But writing quality is uneven, attributable perhaps to the joint authorship. However, the concluding chapters, unlike several preceding them, are quite smooth and the narrative becomes dramatic and even exciting at times. Professors Rogers and Pruitt are to be commended for undertaking the difficult task of separating fact from fiction. They have succeeded in this object to a significant degree. Despite the facts about Renfroe's life that have been developed, he still emerges as a legendary figure about whom Alabamians will continue to ponder. Charles P. Cullop East Carolina University A Naval History of the Civil War. By Howard P. Nash, Jr. (South Brunswick and New York: A. S. Barnes and Co., 1972. Pp. 325. $9.95.) Howard P. Nash, Jr., has attempted the impossible: to write a concise single volume history of Civil War naval operations. As such, this book suffers defects common to histories of this type dealing with the Civil War. Because of the space factor, the author is compelled to telescope major events and campaigns and to gloss over elements which may be vital to an understanding of why the belligerents acted as they did. In addition, the author is forced to rely on secondary sources to a degree unacceptable to historians favoring the monographic approach to a complex subject. When an author does this he perpetuates errors of fact and interpretation. This is unfortunate because Mr. Nash has a good literary style and a keen insight into his subject. Despite these shortcomings many Civil War buffs will find Mr. Nash's book interesting and useful. Chapter one finds the author at his best. The reader is introduced to Secretaries Gideon Welles and Stephen Mallory, and the problems they had to master are tersely analyzed. Although the North enjoyed the advantage of having a "fleet in being," the Civil War came at a time when a technological revolution afloat could have tipped the scales to the South. This is touched on by Mr. Nash, as he discusses the types of ships available to the belligerents. Because of lack of facilities and workmen, the South would never be able to match the North ship for ship. In a futile effort to redress this situation, the Confederacy built ironclads, outfitted swift commerce raiders, and employed novel and untried "secret weapons." The blockade and blockade running are touched on, and the author in this and subsequent chapters effectively demolishes Frank L. Owsley's thesis that the blockade had little effect on the war's outcome. Among the most interesting and enlightening chapters are those which include material adapted from Mr. Nash's articles in Civil War Times, Tradition, and American Neptune. His account of the stone fleet fiasco 81 82CIVIL WAR history at Charleston intrigued this reviewer, and his chronicles of the cruises of Ahbama and the ironclads at Charleston are excellent. A similar accolade can be applied to the chapter describing the battle between Monitor and Virginia. Many of the other chapters, especially the ones relating to the war on inland waters, are pedestrian. Only a few of the many sources covering these operations were consulted, and accordingly these chapters are devoid of new information and interpretations. Mr. Nash has made a strong case for the decisive role played by the Union Navy, and with this contention your reviewer is in agreement. The book is indexed and well illustrated with a number of woodcuts , photographs, and plans. The maps reproduced from Battles and Leaders and the Official Records Atlas are too greatly reduced to be useful . In the future, it is hoped that publishers will either reproduce maps of this type at a legible scale or eliminate them. A number of typographical errors were also noted. Edwin C. Bearss National Park Service Free Negroes in the District of Columbia? 1790-1846. By Letitia Woods Brown. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972. Pp. 226. $7.95.) Among the urban centers in the antebellum South, Washington was unique; civic authority was vested in the federal government. The District of Columbia, initially created out of territorial grants...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 81-82
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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