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book reviews95 While Tunnell's analysis of the crucial importance of internal Republican weaknesses is an important contribution to our understanding, he may go too far in this final, harsh judgment. In reaching such a conclusion, Tunnell has exaggerated the relative disunity of the Republicans and neglected the disparities ofexperience, wealth, power, and skill that were involved. One is easily frustrated at the defeat of a movement whose professed values are so appealing today and which once commanded majority support in Reconstruction Louisiana. Majorities are supposed to prevail in theAmerican system, and ifthey do not, the explanation must lie partly within themselves. Quite so. But one wonders about distinctions between explanation and responsibility, and one certainly must pay as much attention to the strengdis ofthe oppressor as to theweaknesses ofthe oppressed. Frequently Tunnell does just that, but in his interpretive conclusion , he may wander too far from the total social context so effectively emphasized elsewhere in the book. These caveats are intended to raise issues and not to denigrate the value ofthis stimulating work. It is, in fact, a mark ofthe author's success that he forces us to pay attention to crucial matters of interpretation. This is a thoughtful, important, and often exciting book that deserves the attention ofall students ofReconstruction history. Otto H. Olsen Northern Illinois University "Dear Carrie. . . .": The CivilWar Letters ofThomas N. Stevens. Edited by George M. Blackburn. (Mount Pleasant, Michigan: The Clarke Historical Library, 1984. Pp. xx, 341. $17.50.) One of the phenomenal aspects of Civil War historiography is the neverending stream of personal accounts published year after year. George M. Blackburn, who has offered contributions to this stream in the past, brings us yet another. Like all such offerings, it has its share of strong and weak points. Thomas Stevens was a captain in the Twenty-eighth Wisconsin Infantry whose correspondence spanned his entire service, from the summer of 1862 until muster-out three years later. The regiment served primarily in Arkansas and Texas on occupation duty. Stevens's letters, mostly to his wife, reveal much about its internal politics, the day-to-day trials ofa company commander, and the minutia of housekeeping in an infantry unit. There is useful information on draft disturbances in Wisconsin, the Yazoo Pass expedition, life in occupied Little Rock, and the boredom ofcamp life in Texas. Stevens had an observant eye and a facility, when he wrote at his best, to relate what he saw. His battle accounts are good. Unfortunately, he participated in only two substantial battles: at Helena, Arkansas, on July 4, 1863, and in the siege of Spanish Fort near Mobile. Because he wrote so 96CIVIL WAR HISTORY frequendy, one can follow the emotional journey as Stevens expected attack or participated in tough campaigns. Also unfortunate was Stevens's lack of commentary on the war's issues. Some parts of the book are rather dull because this articulate soldier had not the fortune to be employed in more interesting duty, but that only reflects the fate of thousands of men. More editorial commentary, such as setting the strategic background ofsome obscure troop movements, would have been helpful. The total lack of maps is a major hindrance and two substantial printing errors are annoying. The biggest disappointment, however, is the lack of an index. Documentary publications like this have their usefulness reduced by a third (if it is possible to state it statistically) without a good index, and there is no excuse for the absence ofone here. Yet, the strongest impression one takes from these letters is the personal connection between Stevens and his wife, and that, with the military information contained in them, makes the book a positive contribution to the literature. It is truly a personal journey through the war, and fortunately Stevens was an honorable, interesting, and thoughtful traveling companion . Earl J. Hess Purdue University ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 95-96
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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