In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS69 his interpretation of Calhoun's concurrent majority as a coercive instrument intended to protect a disgruntled minority rather than conciliate for the common good. More broadly, Knupfer expresses the hope that his book will promote interest in constitutionalism as a way of life. He is generally persuasive in analyzing compromise as a fundamental constitutional concept that implicates the structure of the Union, the conduct of government, and the spirit of political life. Through his historical description of constitutional unionism he enables us to reflect on an approach to politics that places limits on ideological controversy and focuses on civility, rational discourse, and attachment to forms and procedures as essential elements of liberal constitutionalism. Herman Belz University of Maryland, College Park The Last Citadel: Petersburg, Virginia, June 1864-April 1865. By Noah Andre Trudeau. (Boston, Toronto, and London: Little, Brown and Company , 1991. Pp. xx, 514. $22.95.) The Siege of Petersburg was the longest campaign of the Civil War, extending from mid-June 1864 to early April 1865. It prolonged the life of the Confederacy by almost a year yet resulted in the destruction of the Confederacy's greatest fighting force, the Army of Northern Virginia. And the siege pitted R. E. Lee and U. S. Grant directly against each other. Its duration and significance invite historical attention. General histories of the Civil War and of the war in the eastern theater cannot and certainly have not ignored the campaign for the Cockade City, as Petersburg was called. Yet up through the 1980s no good, modern, booklength history of the entire siege existed, and readers have had to rely on General Andrew A. Humphreys's classic Virginia Campaigns of '64 and '65, published in 1883 as part of Scribner's Campaigns of the Civil War series. National Public Radio producer Noah Andre Trudeau seeks to fill this gap with The Last Citadel. His approach is to concentrate on the peaks of fighting that punctuated the siege. The operations of June 9, 15-18, 21-23, June 22-July 1, July 30, August 14-21, 25, September 15-16, September 29-October 2, October 27, December 7-12, February 5-7, March 25, and April 2 receive primary attention, at least through broad outline although not through detailed tactical coverage. Soldier life in the trenches and civilian experiences in the city are also treated, as is the Hampton Roads peace conference. Excerpts from Grant's final report preface fourteen of the nineteen chapters. Still more extensive are quotations from the Official Records, 70CIVIL WAR HISTORY unit histories, and published and manuscript letters, diaries, and memoirs , which are interwoven throughout the text as Trudeau narrates the story of the siege. The quotations, generally, are well chosen, and Trudeau is a good storyteller. Reading The Last Citadel is enjoyable. It will surely receive a wide readership, and deservedly so. Yet readers must beware of being swept along in the surging story. Some quotes, though vivid, contain errors: e.g., calling August 1 "a beautiful Sabbath morning" (125) when it was neither a Christian nor Hebrew sabbath but a Monday; or claiming that Edward Ord was wounded "just as he entered the fort [Harrison]—among the first" (210), when in fact he was wounded south of that stronghold later in the battle. Trudeau makes no effort, either in his text or in his notes (which are not true citations but simply a summary of sources for each chapter), to point out such errors, but lets them stand uncorrected. More mistakes arise in his own narrative. Some concern commanders, including William F. Smith, Quincy A. Gillmore, Elisha G. Marshall, John C. C. Sanders, William Birney, James Hart, and George G. Meade. Additional errors involve units, such as the 6th Connecticut, William Mahone's division, Joseph R. Davis's and Nathaniel H. Harris's brigades, Thomas A. Smyth's division, and the 4th Maryland Battery, among others. Then, too, the tables of organization (486-502) are rife with errors of omission and commission. Nor does the impressive bibliography escape shortcomings. Particularly distressing is the propensity to confuse the publications of the Massachusetts Commandery of the Loyal Legion, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Military...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 69-71
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.