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182CIVIL WAR HISTORY In noting the continuity of the past into the present, James Oakes observes ironically that emancipation strengthened the political position of the planters in relation to the yeomen in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century South. Moreover, the work of certain Progressive historians helped the process. For the South of the Second Reconstruction, John G. Sproat presents a fresh interpretation of white moderates in accommodation to desegregation in South Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s. To conclude the volume, Joel Williamson pens a thoughtful essay that ranges over a variety of themes in modern southern culture to lament the South's failure to reconstruct itself as a holistic entity following emancipation. These essays have tackled thorny questions in innovative ways, often seriously challenging previously established interpretations. In so doing, the authors have not settled issues but they have opened new channels for further discussion of race and slavery in America. Thus they provide a worthy tribute to Kenneth Stampp who, as much as anyone, realizes the crucial place of revision in the work of historians. Harriet E. Amos University of Alabama at Birmingham The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted. Volume IV. Defending the Union: The CivilWar and the Sanitary Commission, 1861-1863 . Edited by Jane Turner Censer. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. Pp. xxv, 757. $40.00.) Volume IV of The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted brings the career of the antislavery writer and landscape architect up through the midpoint of the Civil War. A majority of the letters, reports and journal entries concern Olmsted's work as Executive Secretary of the Sanitary Commission, a post he held from First Bull Run through Gettysburg. Volume IV, however, touches on many other subjects as well, from Olmsted's continuing interest in making a success of free-labor cotton agriculture in the South (in this case the "Port Royal Experiment") to his plans with E. L. Godkin for launching a weekly magazine that eventually became The Nation. Olmsted actively sought the post of Executive Secretary to the Sanitary Commission and relocated to Washington in the summer of 1861, to be near both the fighting and the administrative center of the war effort. Most of the Sanitary Commission's major decisions, however, were made in New York, where the Executive Committee met. The selections in this volume reflect Olmsted's relationship to the Executive Committee : nearly a third of the documents are letters to Henry Whitney Bellows , the President of the Sanitary Commission; Olmsted also frequently corresponded with George Templeton Strong, the noted New York diarist, and also a member of the Executive Committee. BOOK REVIEWS183 Almost from the outset of its work, the Sanitary Commission occupied an uncertain position in its relations with the War Department, and indeed , with the soldiers in the field. The mission of the Sanitary Commission was to provide supplies to Union Army volunteers, and to work with the Army in promoting good health in the ranks. Olmsted fought frequently with the Surgeon General and the Medical Bureau in the Army. One of his prouder accomplishments was to get the Medical Bureau reorganized in the spring of 1862, and at the same time, have a new Surgeon General appointed who promised more cooperation with the Sanitary Commission. The longest and most arresting item in this volume is a private report Olmsted wrote in September 1861 on the Bull Run disaster. Olmsted and several assistants spent late July and all of August interviewing Union troops on the prelude, action, and aftermath ofthe battle. The investigators compiled a lengthy questionnnaire and concluded from the responses that the failure in the battle directly flowed from the poor physical condition of the troops in camp. Many had not eaten for days before the fighting, and the Olmsted report concluded that the war could only be won by drastic changes in the organization and supply of the army. Only a centralized, controlled effort by thenational government (in contrast to the parochial outlook that spawned secession) could bring forth victory. Olmsted's duties as Executive Secretary required several trips in the field to inspect the work of the Commission. A tour of the western armies in 1863 brought him...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 182-184
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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