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78CIVIL WAR HISTORY place of politics—both as spectator sport and as avocation—in antebellum Southern life. Most frustrating of all, Rabie scrupulously avoids relating the revolution against politics to larger themes in Confederate history. For instance, he does not try to explain the rise and fall of the Confederacy in terms of the party vacuum. Antiparty sentiment most certainly did not destroy the Confederacy , says Rabie, who constantly reminds us that "Confederate politics merits attention on its own terms regardless of the war's outcome" (301). He is right, of course. Yet how much more satisfying his arguments would be if the framework of his revolution, as those he unveiled in But There Was No Peace and Civil Wars, had been more firmly grounded. Yet I quibble. Whatever the gaps and omissions, Rable's book is the new starting point for understanding Confederate politics. And who knows. He may be surprised to find in time that further refinement ofhis arguments will demonstrate that the Confederacy's revolution against politics did, in fact, seal its fate. Daniel E. Sutherland University of Arkansas A Surgeon's Civil War: The Letters and Diary ofDaniel M. Holt, M.D. Edited by James M. Greiner, Janet Coryell, and James R. Smither. (Kent and London: Kent State University Press, 1994. Pp. xvi, 289. $28.00.) Countless Civil War reminiscences, editions of letters and diaries, and regimental histories fill library shelves. A steady stream of reprints and newly edited works continues to flow from commercial and academic presses. Their quality often varies as widely as their number. Occasionally a new manuscript appears in print that, fortunately, transcends the mundane and provides fresh insights and perspectives into the human dimension of the war. The appearance ofA Surgeon 's Civil War is just such a book. The letters and diary ofDr. Daniel M. Holt, Jr., render an engrossing commentary on its impact on him personally and professionally and those around him caught up in its vortex. Born in Herkimer, NewYork, Holt spenthis youth there, even thoughhis family moved to Wisconsin. In 1841 he joined them in Madison, but shortly thereafter he left for medical school in Cincinnati. Graduating in 1 853 and following the death ofhis first wife in that same year, Dr. Holt moved back to the Mohawk Valley and settled in Newport. There he worked for the Herkimer County Poorhouse , began a fairly successful medical practice, and in 1 860 was admitted to the County Medical Society. In 1856 he remarried and with his new wife raised three children from his first marriage and two from the second. With the outbreak ofthe Civil War, Holt, adeeply religious man with strong antislavery feelings , initially remained at home until the summer of 1862. Then, with the formation of a second regiment from Heckimer and Otsego counties, Holt, at the age of forty-three, "feeling that I could do more good to my country in the capacity ofSurgeon, that in any other," decided to enterthe army (5). He applied to the State Medical Board for a commission. Examined in July, he received an appointment as an assistant surgeon in the 1 2 1 st New York Volunteers. BOOK REVIEWS79 Holt and his New Yorkers served in the Eastern theater and first saw action at Crampton's Gap. In the following year the 1 2 1 st suffered heavy losses in the battle of Salem Church. Only peripherally involved in the Gettysburg campaign , they later participated in the bloody battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania , and Cold Harbor. The necessity of combating Jubal Early that summer shifted his regiment back to Maryland, and they soon became a part of Sheridan 's drive to end Southern control over the Shenandoah Valley. Fearless of his own personal safety, he was committed to aiding the wounded. Captured in the aftermath of Salem Church, although released by the intervention ofLee, he "renewed my covenant to God that I would do all in my power to give relief, and solace the pillow ofdeath" (95). With his health deteriorating , Holt asked for a certificate of disability in early October 1 864. With its acceptance he returned to Newport. Suffering from tuberculosis, contracted during the war, he died...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 78-79
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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