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90CIVIL WAR HISTORY southern life by giving "a normally inarticulate class of Tennesseans an excellent mode of expression" (p. 135). John C. Inscoe University of Georgia Irish Green ir Union Blue: The CivilWar Letters of PeterWelsh. Edited by Lawrence Frederick Kohl with Margaret Cosse Richard. (New York: Fordham University Press, 1986. Pp. xxii, 170. $22.95.) This handsome and carefully edited volume contains sixty-five letters by the color sergeant of the 28th Massachusetts, Meagher's Irish Brigade, written from 14 September 1862 to 15 May 1864. Peter Welsh fought from South Mountain into the Wilderness. At the Bloody Angle on 12 May 1864 he was "slightly wounded" (p. 156), and dead within two weeks. Most of the letters are to his wife Margaret Prendergast. She will go down as one of the great nags and invalids among Civil War wives, a northern enlisted counterpart to the spouses of Lee and Pender. But she saved these priceless letters. Margaret was bitter because Peter enlisted after a spree in Boston, spending all his money, including the fare home to New York. She never knew what the war was about, while he understood it better than some historians. His letters are filled with concern about her health, which the editors saywas always fragile. Shelived until 1892. Welsh is colorful and candid. He approves of recruiting black regiments, but admits that "feeling against nigars is intensely strong in this army . . . especially in the Irish regiments" (p. 62). Devoted to the Union, though not a blind nationalist, Welsh tempered his views with Catholic fatalism and a puritan judgment, calling the war God's "chastisement on the country" burdened with an "incompetent" administration (p. 70). Of Lincoln he writes in April 1863 "there is not in theranks of this army a more miserable looking man than old Abe ..." (p. 84). Less than three months before his fatal wound, he calls Virginia "a cursed state . . . the sepulcher of America . . . "(p. 147), as indeed it had become. Editorial slips are minor. Controversy has revived over the origin of Jackson's nickname (p. 18). Sears places Antietam casualties thirteen percent below Kohl (p. 26). The text is commendably free of needless editorial clutter, but non-buffs may not understand such mistakes as an army "core" (p. 32). Union efforts at Kelly's Ford, where Pelham was killed, are too lightly dismissed (p. 80). Monographs by Adrian Cook and James McCague have long superseded Allan Nevins on the draft riots (p. 110). These are small matters. All students of the war are indebted to Margaret Welsh's relatives, who preserved the letters of one of the men who book reviews91 saved the Union; and to the editors, for making this rich primary source available. We can look forward to Kohl's forthcoming history ofthe Irish Brigade. Michael B. Chesson University of Massachusetts at Boston Ghostsof the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, andthe Emergence of the New South, 1865 to 1913. By Gaines M. Foster. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. Pp. x, 306. $29.95.) Gaines Foster's study ofthe development of the theme of the Lost Cause is an insightful and suggestive exploration of the southern reaction to defeat in the half-century after Gettysburg. Taking issue with previous interpretation which treat the Lost Cause as civil religion or myth, he forcefully argues that it can best be understood as an evolving tradition which enabled white southerners to come to terms with the verdict of Appomattox while preserving their honor and integrity. Rather than challenge the consequences of an emerging industrial economy, as did the Farmer's Alliances, veterans' organizations provided their members with an opportunity for psychological escape by creating a nostalgic past which offered stability and reassurance in a changing world. Once the adjustment from Old South to New South had been made, the Lost Cause lost much of its function, remaining as part of a southern identity emphasizing defiance and distinctiveness for their own sake. Concentrating on the organizations, institutions, and publications which propagated the Confederate tradition, Foster traces how the nature of the Lost Cause changed over time. In the 1870s, a group of Virginians led by Jubal A. Early attempted to define the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 90-91
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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