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BOOK REVIEWS277 Professor Barney has the usual difficulty herding these mobile, individualistic people into neat categories in a society where class lines were blurred. On page 32 he defines the middle class as "relatively prosperous farmers and small slaveowners," but on page 38 he describes it as nonslaveholding yeomen and urban tradesmen. On page 63 he parenthetically defines planters as owners of thirty or more slaves and throughout tends to endow them with a unique patriarchal mentality . How such fellows could reach the higher echelons of commercial agriculture or stay there for long without practicing standard bourgeois virtues is not explained. This reviewer is inclined to think that Professor Barney and many other able historians overestimate the class consciousness and socioeconomic stratification and ideological orientation of the antebellum South. But Professor Barney does not base his entire study on such concepts . He puts much stress on youth as a factor in the secession movement and emphasizes racism even more. In many ways he is at his best here, relentlessly probing primary sources and coming up with some candid quotations more valuable than many statistics. He also mentions political opportunism, but unfortunately only in passing. Some antebellum Southern polĂ­ticos were great broken field runners always driving for the next election victory no matter what course was required . More coverage of late antebellum party politics in Alabama and Mississippi would have illustrated this expedient bandwagon aspect of secessionism and also added necessary historical depth. Perhaps only more varied Alabama should have been examined in greater factual detail over a longer period of antebellum time. Nevertheless, Professor Barney's book is a fine addition to the vast literature on the coming of the Civil War. It is massively researched, and, given the complexity and duality of the subject, it is clearly and forcefully written. He has adequately handled statistical information which is frustratingly incomplete, especially at the "beat" or precinct level. The footnoting is thorough; the bibliography, informative; the index, satisfactory. At a time when university presses are increasingly reluctant to even consider dissertations for publication, Professor Barney has demonstrated just how readily some can be molded into valuable monographs. F. N. Boney University of Georgia Arming the Union: Small Arms in the Civil War. By Carl L. Davis. (Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1973. Pp. xiii, 207. $12.50.) Carl Davis' study of small arms problems of the Union Army criticizes past historians in the field and presents a fairly balanced review of the United States Ordnance Department. Many misconceptions are clarified . Too often scholars, for example, have justified officers, such as Col- 278civil war history onel Hiram Berdan of the 1st Sharpshooters, who successfully defied the bureaucracy despite some questionable actions. Davis also points out that although the rifled musket has been considered only a short range weapon, it actually doubled or tripled the range of the older smoothbore musket thereby forcing tactical changes. Arming the Union is worth reading for campaign students and arms collectors. The reader learns that Brigadier General James Wolfe Ripley, Chief of Ordnance, did communicate with his superiors about the deficiencies of his department. Davis makes a special effort to point out that Congress hamstrung the harried Ordnance Department by failing to authorize the clerical and officer staffs required for minimal efficiency. Bureaucratic -minded Ripley and his successor, Lieutenant Colonel George D. Ramsay, were not incompetent but did lack imagination. In response to the arms panic of 1861-1862, many old foreign weapons were brought to the United States. These were only randomly inspected by non-ordnance officers before being issued, causing early and understandable prejudice against foreign arms. Arming the Union not only describes the problems of the Ordnance Department but reviews the breech-loading controversy and the pitfalls of early American arms manufacturers. The breechloading arguments raged through the war until September, 1864 when the capable Ordnance Chief, Major Alexander B. Dyer, who had expanded the Springfield Armory, took charge and changed policy by ordering the conversion to breechloaders. Although this book is primarily a bureau history, more information about James Ripley, Christopher Spencer, Samuel Colt and Alexander Dyer might have added zest to a sometimes bland text based largely on Ordnance...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 277-278
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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