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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 left no doubt about what propelled African Americans to serve in the Union Army. As one soldier at Petersburg in the 3 1 st USCT declared: "we know, and the slave knows . . . that fighting for the Union is fighting against slavery" [Noah Andre Trudeau, Like Men of War: Black Troops in the Civil War (1998), 228-29]. Donald Yacovone Massachusetts Historical Society BuffFacings and Gilt Buttons: Staffand Headquarters Operations in the Army of Northern Virginia, 1861-1865. By J. Boone Bartholomees Jr. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998. Pp. xv, 352. $29.95.) So much has been written about the Civil War that there would seem to be no new ground to be broken. This book, however, does that. One of the most neglected aspects of the Civil War is the manner in which commanders exercised command over troops in battle. This matter, a challenge for even as great a captain as Napoleon, becomes even more challenging when one adds to the mix the factors of improved weaponry and its necessary corollary, tactical dispersion . The key element here often becomes not only the commanders themselves but also their staffs. Yet this element of the Civil War has long been ignored, with some minor exceptions (including the modest efforts of this reviewer). Bartholomees's book attempts to fill this gap in our knowledge, at least in terms of the Army of Northern Virginia. 258CIVIL WAR HISTORY The book has much to recommend it. The author has done a very good job of sifting through the various regulations issued by the Confederate government dealing with the issue of staffs and shows clearly how theory quickly parted company with actual practice. Bartholomees's organizational approach overthe book's first five chapters is well taken, as it gives us a clear picture of a staff's organization and the duties of each staff officer. This is particularly important when it comes to the major task each of these officers was to some degree engaged in, namely the day-to-day administering of the army's needs. In addition, the author covers staffs at every level, from the lowest (brigade) to the highest (army). The book does have its share of flaws, especially concerning the research. Bartholomees admits in the preface that he limited his research to printed sources and secondary works. Even a short trip to North Carolina, where the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina and the Duke University Library are conveniently located within driving distance ofeach other, would have yielded much useful material. Particularly important are Sandie Pendleton's letters and Francis Dawson's papers, to name but a few. A look at WilliamWhann Mackall's papers would have allowed some briefcomparisons with the Army of Tennessee...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 257-258
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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