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256CIVIL WAR HISTORY In the portion of the book dealing with the period following his leaving office , the renditions of his various speeches are again good examples of his tendency to stick to his convictions. In constantly harping on the rectitude of his intentions, the outrageous way in which he was allegedly treated, and his happiness of having been released from the trammels of office, he appears as a true Cincinnatus willing to retire from politics. Of course he never ceased plotting for a return to office, an effort which finally succeeded in 1 875, when he was elected to the Senate. The typically self-centered speeches of the ex-president reveal him as unwilling ever to recede from previously formed opinions and go far to explain his unpopularity. As usual, these problems are clarified by a well-written introduction—perhaps a bit too brief, but very informative. Bergeron has once again done an excellent job in making available these papers of Andrew Johnson. Hans L. Trefousse City University of New York The Black Civil War Soldiers of Illinois: The Story of (he Twenty-ninth U.S. ColoredInfantry. By EdwardA. Miller Jr. (Columbia: University ofSouth Carolina Press, 1998. Pp. xi, 267. $29.95.) Interest in all aspects of the Civil War continues to grow. Still, relatively little attention has been given to the African American experience in the war. Most concern remains fixed on Massachusetts's black regiments, especially the famed 54th. Thus, Edward A. Miller's study of Illinois's black regiment is welcomed and needed. , With the kind of thorough research that suffuses all his books, Miller immersed himselfin the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry's (USCT) disturbing, but honorable history. The 29th, like the other USCT units (not to be confused with the Connecticut 29th), was comprised predominately of former Missouri slaves. Its experience in the war—the unit's social composition, lack of training, neglect by the Union army's command structure, and the amount of racial venom hurled at it—made the 29th far more typical of the African American war experience than that of the 54th Massachusetts. Miller explores the appalling levels of racial antipathy in Illinois that formed the backdrop for the unit's creation and the ugly opportunism that underpinned state support for a black regiment. There was scant white support for black rights in the state, which, after all, sold into slavery blacks who illegally settled there and which had repudiated the Emancipation Proclamation. Petersburg's Battle of the Crater represented the regiment's major engagement . Although this reader would have preferred more comparative detail on the experiences of the other USCT regiments that participated in this Union disaster, Miller tells a riveting story ofblack bravery and inept Union generalship. BOOK REVIEWS257 The Confederate slaughter of black prisoners should have made this engagement one of the most criminal in the war's annals. Astonishingly, the Northern white press tried to blame black cowardice for the monumental defeat, and none spoke of the white Yankees who killed their comrades to save their skins. A conspiracy of silence descended on the press when it came to what was indisputable evidence for rampant murder. In several episodic chapters, Miller presents the details of the lives of many individual black soldiers that he uncovered from compiled service and pension records. A laborious method, but the collective evidence—especially for the men in their postwar years—is compelling. "The overwhelming majority" of the black soldiers, Miller concluded, "died as they had lived, desperately poor" (201). Although the government failed to meet its obligation to the black troops during the war, Miller found that the pension office offered black veterans generally fair andjudicious treatment. Indeed, Miller discovered that without government support the veterans ofthe 29th and their families could not have endured in the postwar world. This reader was also struck by a thread ofcynicism that wound its way through much of the book. The author appears to believe that most of the men who joined the 29th USCT sought only pay and bonuses, not equality and freedom. But the work of the Freedom history project, the Black Abolitionist Papers, Edwin Redkey, and this reviewer should have...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 256-257
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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