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272civil war history and the Richmond & Danville at Danville, completed in May 1864 (and which would be crucial in its evolution as a trunk railroad after the war). In April 1865, as Sherman moved toward Raleigh, the NCRR was clogged with the property of panicked North Carolinians in his path, hoping to send it west for safety. Stoneman's Raiders struck in the west on April 11, burning bridges south of Greensboro. The Confederates tore up track east of Greensboro to slow Sherman. Most of the panic shipments, including state records and the gold from the state treasury, disappeared in the chaos. Generals Johnston and Sherman used the NCRR part way to a meeting near Durham on April 18, 1865, when surrender terms were laid down. In the last two weeks of fighting, the road suffered major, if not cataclysmic, destruction. The next two years would be the only unprofitable years of its history. Professor Trelease's principal source was the NCRR records at the North Carolina Archives in Raleigh. He has included extensive sections on management and labor and on freight and passenger operations before , during, and after the war. The book deals more with business and transportation topics than the Civil War, but its wartime role was significant enough to be of interest to war historians. It is one of the bestresearched and best-written histories of pioneering railroads to come along in many years. Richard Saunders Clemson University The Confederate High Command and Related Topics, the 1988 Deep Delta Civil War Symposium: Themes in Honor of T Harry Williams. Edited by Lawrence L. Hewitt and Roman J. Heleniak. (Shippensburg, Pa.: White Mane Publishing Co., 1990. Pp. 186. $18.95.) The nine essays which comprise The Confederate High Command and Related Topics are the work of proven scholars who were the colleagues or students of T. Harry Williams. Four of the essays in the collection treat the Confederate high command explicitly; the other five essays are only tenuously "related" to the topic. Though lacking a solid thematic focus, the collection has real merit because of the quality of the individual contributions. Frank Vandiver's splendid contribution to the collection is a comprehensive review of Williams's singular and prolific Civil War scholarship. Vandiver, himself among the elite of Civil War historians, contends that Williams was a truly original scholar who changed the course of Civil War studies. In a substantive and sophisticated summary of Williams's ideas, Vandiver also offers valuable insights into the proper way of doing history. This essay alone would justify the publication of Confederate High Command. BOOK REVIEWS273 The essays of Lawrence Hewitt and Richard Sommers are drawn from their larger and excellent works dealing with the siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana, and the Petersburg campaign. Hewitt's graphic essay focuses on why the Confederate defenders of Port Hudson resisted for so long and with such determination. His conclusions, based on his intimate familiarity with the physical and psychological realities of the Port Hudson siege, are all plausible. Hewitt's interesting essay might have been stronger had his analysis of the conduct of Major General Franklin Gardner, the Confederate commander at Port Hudson, been more thorough . Certainly, few Confederate commanders faced trials comparable to those endured by Gardner. Apart from improving his essay, such a discussion would have strengthened the larger collection thematically. In his essay, Richard Sommers describes the battle of Poplar Spring Church, one of myriad engagements in the larger struggle for Petersburg. Emphasizing the tactical decisions of divisional and corps commanders, Sommers ranks the battle a strategic victory for the Confederates but suggests that the value of this strategic victory was mitigated to a large extent by the Confederate proclivity for counterattacking, a tactical ploy that resulted in excessive Confederate casualties in the battle. Fuller discussion of this much-debated issue of Confederate commanders' predilection for the tactical offensive would have placed Sommers's essay in a larger historiographical context while also bringing it into a tighter harmony with the "Confederate command" theme of the collection. Jon L. Wakelyn's creative essay is a particularly valuable contribution to Confederate High Command. Wakelyn rightly contends that any reasonable analysis of Confederate commanders...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 272-274
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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