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86CIVIL WAR HISTORY leading role in the United States Senate throughout the 1 850s and his activities as Confederate envoy to England, the most important post in his country's diplomatic corps.Young provides evidence that wartime diplomatic pressures eventually won out over commitments to slavery and restricted federal power, though he does not frame the issue in these terms. More sustained attention to the Confederacy's willingness to pursue emancipation as a national emergency measure might have brought out the tensions between these three themes and have demonstrated their interaction under one set of desperate circumstances. Young's portrait implies that Mason is worth investigation on his own terms, and not merely because of the series of well-known episodes with which he is popularly associated. This is important, especially since a second Mason biography is very unlikely in the near future. Instead of arguing for his relevance, however, the book concludes that Mason was an "anachronism," an assessment that isolates him from those contexts that established his importance to contemporaries and defined his significance to later generations. Portraying him as a throw-back to earlier days ofVirginia's dominance may apply with some validity to his values and commitments. It leaves one wondering, however, whether championing traditional principles made him more or less effective in successively confronting the most pressing issues of mid-century American politics. This fair-minded overview of one man's life thus leaves some important questions unanswered, especially those that might have explained how Mason interacted with the true leading actors on which he shared the stage. Robert Bonner University of Southern Maine This Wilderness ofWar: The Civil War Letters ofGeorge W Squier, Hoosier Volunteer . Edited by Julie A. Doyle, John David Smith, and Richard M. McMurry. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1998. Pp. xxx, 130. $30.00.) Here is another published collection Civil War letters, but to dismissively note the appearance of still another volume in this familiar genre would be unwise. After all, the value of such letters much depends on the reader's needs. What for a military historian might be valuable tactical detail will seem like minutiae to a social historian; useful tidbits on common soldier life may seem trivial for anyone interested in the war's larger themes. Yet the publication of additional primary material is always welcome, and happily, this group of letters written by an Indiana soldier to his wife has something for nearly everyone. George W. Squier enlisted as a corporal (later promoted to lieutenant) in the 44th Indiana. He soon contracted typhoid fever, missed the fighting at Fort Donelson, but recovered for the bloodbath at Shiloh. His regiment was also heavily engaged at Stone's River and less so at Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge. Becoming a veteran volunteer regiment in December 1863, these Hoosiers performed garrison duty around Chattanooga for the remainder of the war. BOOK REVIEWS87 Squier's letters contain the usual laments about mail service, high prices, loneliness, and boredom, but they also have nice individual touches. He does not shy away from dealing with the carnage of battle and wryly refers to the regimental surgeon as "Instent death" (6). Although Squier claims "we are not allowed to write the particulars about battle," his own letters belie this assertion . The lengthy report on Shiloh and his superb account of Stone's River nicely combine vivid detail with sensitive reflection. His candor is refreshing. At Stone's River, for example, he notes that the 44th ran and even admits stripping some of the Rebel dead. For students of nineteenth-century political culture, Squier presents the paradox of a man with limited education—at least in spelling—who nevertheless was keenly interested in public questions. He was an ardent abolitionist with a great reverence for the Constitution. A deeply religious man who claimed to be one of only four in his company to abjure swearing. Squier saw an intimate connection between God's will and the Republic's fate. For him, the Confederacy represented rebellion against the creator as well as against the government . Paying close attention to the election of 1864, he railed against George B. McClellan and Copperheads and saw Abraham Lincoln as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 86-87
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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