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

BOOK REVIEWS263 "Ugie" Allen, a young, prosperous planter from west-central Georgia, volunteered for Confederate service in spring 1861 and was appointed second lieutenant in a company that became part of the 21st Georgia Infantry. Until his mortal wounding at Chancellorsville, Allen served in Virginia and wrote more than 130 letters home, mostly to his wife, Susie. Though capably edited by Randall Allen and Keith Bohannon, it must be said that the writings offer more than enough dull commentary on routine or personal matters. The author himself was aware of this, either because he lacked epistolary talent ("you know my facilities for writing are frequently very poor" [153-54]), or because he was often rushed ("who can write anything more than mere generalities when everything is in a figit" [134]), or because he just lacked vim ("too lazy to write, too lazy to even think, too lazy to do anything but eat and scratch" [170]). When Allen rises above these shortcomings, though, the result is truly noteworthy . In camp he writes of the prevalence of lice, shortage of shoes, and shocking manners at mess ("it is quite common to see a person wipe his knife on his boot and commence eating" [91]). There is a glimpse or two of Stonewall Jackson, ajudgement of Gen. Dick Ewell as "one of these crabed dispeptic kind of fellows" (145), and a fine story of D. H. Hill, who punished a soldier for duplicitously capturing a Yankee (and released theYank). He confessed his feelings , too: fear under first fire in March 1862; longing to be home (amid dreams of lovemaking with his wife), and remorselessly shooting Yankees like ducks, but showing compassion to a wounded enemy. Promoted to captain in May 1862, Allen fought under Jackson at Cross Keys, Gaines'Mill, CedarMountain, Sharpsburg, andFredericksburg, buthis limited observations onthese battles arenotvery illuminating. More memorablearehis commentaries on the humbuggery of military glory which was, he sniffed, "the dream of the enthusiast, fit only to be disapated by a simple night march or bomb" (180). On the whole, however, these glints of insight and interest are far too infrequent to rescue Ugie Allen's letters from a dreary blandness. Of course, it is a matter of taste whether this correspondence would have profited from publication in a shorter, more excerpted format. One should not go so far as to generalize from Allen's own criticism of his missive of September 23, 1862: "You will find this a remarkably stupid epistle" (166). When he added, "but I hope it is better than none," he conceived a rather bleak but not altogether unfitting characterization of his letters home. Stephen Davis Oglethorpe University Inside the Army of the Potomac: The Civil War Experience of Captain Francis Adams Donaldson. Edited by J. Gregory Acken. Forward by Edwin C. Bearss. (Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1998. Pp. xii, 500. $34.95.) Upon hearing of Fort Sumter's surrender, twenty-one-year-old Francis Adams Donaldson left his job as a Philadelphia shipping clerk to help raise what 264CIVIL WAR HISTORY became the ist California (later 71st Pennsylvania) Volunteer Infantry. In that regiment's first engagement, the ignominious Union defeat at Ball's Bluff, he was captured and spent the next three and a half months as a prisoner of war in Richmond. Exchanged in early 1 862, Donaldson returned to his regiment and received two promotions, to sergeant major and then to second lieutenant. Assigned to the 2d Corps, the California Regiment served throughout the Peninsula Campaign, but Lt. Donaldson took a miniƩ ball in the arm at Fair Oaks and was sent home to recover. During his convalescence, the 71st Pennsylvania dropped five of its fifteen original companies; having recovered from his wound, Donaldson unhappily became a casualty of that reorganization. When directors ofthe Philadelphia Corn Exchange raised a new regiment, the 1 1 8th Pennsylvania , the boyish-looking combat veteran became one of its company commanders . Assigned to the 5th Corps, the 11 8th Pennsylvania was blooded at Shepherdstown, Virginia, during Lee's retreat from Antietam and remained with theArmy ofthe Potomac until war's end. Donaldson saw action at Shepherdstown, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Bristoe Station, Rappahannock Station, and Mine Run...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 263-265
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.