Book Review: “September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield”

War transforms a landscape. It turns peaceful farm fields into battlefields and burial grounds. Homes and churches become riddled with shot and shell and serve as hospitals in the gruesome aftermath. Some of those landscapes and buildings were forever altered; some paved over by modern development and others torn down. Others survive as a symbol, a silent reminder of war’s horrors. Antietam’s Dunker Church is one such symbol, according to authors Alann Schmidt and Terry Barkley in September Mourn

Former National Park Service historian at Antietam Ted Alexander writes in the book’s Foreword, “Antietam’s Dunker Church competes with the Alamo and Shiloh Church as the ranking house of worship in our military history.” Schmidt and Barkley set out to tell the whole story of this historic icon.

September Mourn picks up the story of the Dunker Church well before the building was erected along the road between Sharpsburg and Hagerstown, Maryland in 1853. For the authors, the story of the church is not just about the humble building itself but about the people who worshipped there, as well.

The German Baptist Brethren, as the Dunkers are formally known, started in Europe in 1708. Schmidt and Barkley follow Dunker migration into western Maryland and ultimately to Sharpsburg. The inner workings of the construction of the Dunker Church and its religious practices are explained in detail. Of particular value is the authors’ ability to tie the Antietam battlefield landscape to the church, mentioning local families’ connections to the white-washed brick church. They also locate for the reader the seldom visited Dunker baptism site in the Antietam Creek and the place where the bricks were baked that constituted the church’s famed walls.

Two chapters in the book place the church in the context of the Maryland Campaign and the Battle of Antietam. But, as the book rightfully shows, the story of the church goes well beyond that eighteen day period. Much of the book is dedicated to telling the rest of the church’s 165-year story, including local efforts to renovate the church following the battle, its collapse in 1921, and subsequent efforts to rebuild the church that became a symbol of peace. September Mourn carries a reader all the way to today, covering the church’s role in such recent events as the Civil War’s Sesquicentennial commemoration.

“As strange as it may sound,” the authors’ write, “if it hadn’t been for the Battle of Antietam, the Mumma Church probably would have remained in obscurity save for its divine service as a House of the Lord for the Brethren” (125). Schmidt and Barkley have written a short, palatable history of the church that is worth the time to read. Inside, readers will find military, social, religious, and preservation history. Give it a read. It will make your next trip to the Dunker Church all the more special and meaningful, understanding what that simple edifice has been through and what it means to thousands of people today.

____

Alann Schmidt and Terry Barkley, September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield.

Savas Beatie, 2018.

155 pages.

Footnotes, Appendix, Bibliography, Index, Maps.

Review of “The Last Siege: The Mobile Campaign, Alabama 1865”

When Ulysses S. Grant looked back at the 1865 Mobile Campaign, he had an uncharitable view of the victory, writing that it was “eminently successful, but without any good result. Indeed much valuable property was destroyed and many lives lost at a time when we would have liked to spare them. The war was practically over before their victories were gained. They were so late in commencing operations, that they did not hold any troops away that otherwise would have been operating against the armies which were gradually forcing the Confederate armies to a surrender.”

Historians mostly agree with Grant’s view of the Mobile campaign. It was a backwater, compared to operations in Virginia and North Carolina. The Union moved too slowly, and while the operation did keep five brigades from being transferred to North Carolina, these men hardly numbered more than 4,000 troops even by generous estimates.

Paul Brueske, head coach of the University of South Alabama’s track & field program, takes the received wisdom to task in The Last Siege: The Mobile Campaign, Alabama 1865. This is his first book, and it shows the strengths and weaknesses of a first-time author writing about a subject they feel a personal passion for. I had the same feeling when I crafted The Battle of Petersburg, June 15-18, 1864, so The Last Siege struck a nerve.

Early books often suffer from minor errors that, upon reflection, are cleaned up with experience. The Last Siege lacks first-rate maps and even an order of battle, which is must in any campaign or battle study. The operations against Spanish Fort are treated in detail but by comparison Fort Blakeley is not.

Fort Blakeley

Surprisingly, the book has more Confederate perspectives and voices than Union ones, which is often the opposite given primary sources. For anyone with a strong anti-Confederate interpretation, Brueske may seem a little too impressed by the ability of the Spanish Fort garrison to hold out. They will also take exception to his discussion of atrocities at Fort Blakeley and Ship Island, where USCT men were accused of murdering Confederate prisoners. Brueske’s treatment is fair. He does not hide that it happened but makes clear it was more incidental than widespread. Brueske is an unapologetic reconciliationist, easy with praise for soldier heroics and the lenient surrender terms offered to Richard Taylor by E. R. S. Canby. Such views are not currently fashionable among a vocal phalanx of scholars, but I am glad they have not been extinguished. Diversity of thought and opinion is a sign that a field is not about to atrophy into dogma, and therefore become sterile over time. As the saying goes, “every dogma has its day.”

As a student of the evolution of warfare in the age of horse & musket, I was annoyed with Brueske’s insistence that the stand at Spanish Fort was remarkable or the campaign was extremely “modern.” Smaller garrisons have held out against longer odds and the tactics used at Spanish Fort were close to the sieges of previous wars. In general, military historians of the American Civil War are only just now beginning to think of the conflict in terms of western warfare during the era, and I hope Brueske’s next book does not commit the same parochial sin of omission that has even plagued books by great scholars.

The Last Siege excels in the art of anecdote. It might grate some people, but I love stories of individuals, great and small, trying to survive in trying times. We know so little about the experiences of common soldiers before 1800, and the American Civil War was one of the first where the average private told their story, whether in letter, memoir, or article. Among the best tidbits are Fredrick Steele, who loved animals, losing his horse, which rode into the Rebel lines. Another is of the 1866 surrender of six Confederate diehards who lived in caves after the fighting stopped. He also recounts the complicated experience of the USCT, including the humiliation of being segregated by race when they had to share ship space with white Union soldiers.

Lastly, Brueske succeeds in refuting Grant’s verdict, which was written in hindsight by a sick man who was not friendly with Canby, nor his second in command, Gordon Granger. I think if one of his friends was in charge, he would have been more charitable towards a successful campaign. Grant wrote “I had tried for more than two years to have an expedition sent against Mobile when its possession by us would have been of great advantage. It finally cost lives to take it when its possession was of no importance, and when, if left alone, it would within a few days have fallen into our hands without any bloodshed whatever.” Both Brueske and I believe that Grant is only partially correct.

The fall of Mobile secured the Confederacy’s last bastion, kept veteran troops away from North Carolina, and was launched when the war’s end was still undetermined. As Brueske makes clear, the Confederates at Mobile were die-hards, and they fought as if the war was still worth their sacrifice. Although the refusal of Lee, Beauregard, and Johnston to wage a guerilla war was more important to ending the conflict, the seizure of Mobile, and the follow up march on Montgomery, were decisive in breaking Confederate morale in Alabama. The fall of Mobile sped up the end of the war.

The Last Siege is a flawed but solid work of history. Brueske has potential to be a good and consistent contributor to the history of the war, particularly as it relates to Alabama. I met him at a recent presentation he gave at Confederate Memorial Hall Museum in New Orleans. He told me he plans to write a more extensive account of the fighting at Spanish Fort. In addition, he has also resurrected the Mobile Civil War round-table. I wish him best of luck in both endeavors.

The Last Siege

Review: Texans at Antietam

ECW Book Reviews Banner Photo

Texans at Antietam-cover.jpgFewer stories of the Civil War are more renowned than that of the fight for Miller’s cornfield at Antietam. It’s one of those locations that has been forever endowed with capital letters because of the intensity of combat there: The Cornfield. And of that fight, General John Bell Hood’s Confederate brigade suffered a particularly awful fate. “The Texas Brigade is dead on the field,” a shaken Hood reportedly told Robert E. Lee.

Texans at Antietam: A Terrible Clash of Arms by Joe Owen, Philip McBride, and Joe Allport, allows the survivors of the Texas Brigade to tell the story of that “terrible clash” in their own words. 

Like its predecessor, Texans at Gettysburg: Blood and Glory with Hood’s Brigade, Texans at Antietam is a well-curated collection of primary source material from Hood’s Texas Brigade. Owen and his colleagues tap into official records, letters, and in particular, old newspaper accounts to share the stories of the veterans as the veterans themselves remembered them.

“There were never enough Texas infantry in General Robert E. Lee’s army of them to compromise [sic] a wholly Texan Brigade of four of five regiments,” the authors explain in their introduction. Therefore, the 18th Georgia and Hampton’s South Carolina Legion rounded out the brigade, which otherwise consisted of the 1st, 4th, and 5th Texas.

As the war went on, and attrition took its toll on the Texans, new recruits bolstered the dwindling ranks (contrast this against northern states like Pennsylvania and New York, which just kept adding new regiments so they could claim the honor of having the highest number of units). As result, the losses suffered by the Texans over time became even more dramatic, which the authors explore in detail in their introduction. The grim arithmetic is eye-opening.

A short prologue reveals “Uneasiness in Texas” because information about the battle of Antietam reached “the Lone Star State at a very slow rate.” The newspaper articles well-reflect the tension as Texans awaited news on their boys at the front. “The indefinite and meagre intelligence from the seat of war renders it exceedingly difficult to form anything like an accurate idea of the position of affairs,” one paper lamented.

Subsequent sections compile accounts from each of the brigade’s five regiments, including the Georgians and the South Carolinians. Some, like Capt. Watson Dugat Williams of the 5th Texas, writing to “My Dear Laura” on October 2, 1862, put their experiences into words just days after the battle. Others, like Capt. James D. Roberdeau of the same regiment, captured their thoughts for subsequent battle anniversaries, such as Roberdeau’s 1899 column in the Colorado Citizen.

The authors compile short biographies of most of the men to help readers better connect with them, and when possible, they include photographs.

Final sections include “Generals and Commanders Correspondence” and “Other Texans, A Louisianan, and a Few Yankees Who Fought at Antietam.” Ted Alexander, former historian at Antietam National Battlefield, wrote a foreword that hooked me from the first line. (Ted’s foreword was not mentioned on the cover, though, which seemed like a lost marketing opportunity.)

Produced by U.K. publisher Fonthill Media, the book follows some British rather than American style conventions—single quotation marks instead of double, commas outside quotation marks, etc.—which probably won’t bother most readers. For a company trying to strengthen its foothold on the American Civil War market, though, making such a subtle adjustment would demonstrate a better knowledge of its target audience. This small factor rests beyond the authors’ control.

Texans at Antietam would be an especially useful reference work for researchers writing about The Cornfield because account after account provides colorful lines, interesting anecdotes, and horrific stories. That same vividness makes Texans at Antietam interesting reading for any fan of the battle.

“Grant” by Ron Chernow – A Review

Emerging Civil War welcomes guest author James F. Epperson

Many compelling tales come out of the history of the American Civil War. One of the most interesting is the story of the slouchy Ohio-born tanner’s son who progressed from leather-goods store clerk to Lieutenant General and commander of the Union armies and who began the war having trouble getting any position at all in the Federal war effort, yet ended up accepting the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in Wilmer McLean’s parlor. There have been many biographies of Grant in recent years, and Chernow’s, while suffering from some flaws, is perhaps the best.

Grant was a complex man, and efforts to reduce him to a simplistic caricature—stolid, taciturn, drunk, butcher, stupid—simply do not stand up to much scrutiny. As Chernow shows, Grant lived with fundamentally honesty, yet was tragically susceptible to being conned by unscrupulous men. Loyal to a fault (literally), he could yet (and did) admit fault regarding men he had tangled with. (He was also quite capable of nursing a grudge.)   Whatever his issues with alcohol – and this is a large and important focus of Chernow’s book – he kept them mostly, if imperfectly, in check. He remained absolutely devoted to his wife and just as devoted to the cause of civil rights for the men freed by the war he won.  And when faced with an opponent he could not defeat – cancer – he managed a moral and literary victory of epic proportions.

Grant’s life story has been written many times since the 1860s, and the basic outline is generally well-known: First-born child of an Ohio tanner and his pious, near-silent wife; enrolls at West Point in the class of 1843 (graduates 21st out of 39); distinguished service in the Mexican War; difficult period on the west coast leads to his resignation in 1854; struggles to provide for his family in civilian life; re-enters military service as the colonel of an Illinois infantry regiment in 1861; rises to the rank of Lieutenant General, accepting the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House in 1865; is elected to two terms as President of the United States; left destitute by a Wall Street swindler, and confronted by a terminal cancer diagnosis, he writes a magnificent memoir of 336,000 words in less than a year, dying literally days after declaring the job done.

That is the bare-bones version, of course, and there are a lot of details needed to flesh that out. Chernow’s biography ranks near the top of the list of Grant biographies that I’ve read.  The first task of a biographer is to understand their subject, warts and all, and I think the author does this.

I have read numerous complaining predictions (on various blogs, mostly) that Chernow’s book is uncritical, but this does not hold up to an actual reading of the text. Chernow’s Grant has an alcohol problem, can be over-confident as a military commander, was clearly not expecting the Confederate attack at Shiloh, does not perceive the ethical issues in accepting gifts from wealthy benefactors, and is consistently unable to avoid being “conned” by public or private associates. If that is not being critical, then I guess I don’t know what the word means.

Ulysses S. Grant

There are three specific issues I’d like to address in some detail.

While Chernow’s treatment of Grant’s Civil War campaigns is far superior to that in Ronald White’s American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant, the absence of any campaign studies from the bibliography troubled me. Considering Chernow was not coming to this project as a “Civil War historian,” I think it is reasonable to expect him to spend some time with the many fine works that exist on Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, the 1864 campaign in Virginia, etc. He does list a number of “standard” histories of the Civil War, including outstanding works by Catton, Foote, and McPherson.

One cannot review this book without some discussion of Chernow’s treatment of Grant’s drinking. My personal view concludes it is both a strength and a weakness of the book.  Chernow offers more detail on the subject than most Grant biographers, much of it drawn from the Hamlin Garland Papers, copies of which have apparently been archived at the Grant Library at Mississippi State University (Garland wrote perhaps the first scholarly biography of Grant in 1898 and conducted many interviews with people who had known him). While Chernow occasionally presents fresh perspectives on well-known incidents, he usually provides very little evaluation of the evidence. Essentially – and this is a bit of an over-simplification, but I think it is essentially correct – he presents nearly every story, anecdote, or rumor that he can find, putting them all on equal footing. His basic thesis presents Grant as a binge-drinker, someone who, once started, could not help going downhill into full intoxication. In this regard, Chernow follows James McPherson, who put forward essentially the same thesis in his highly regarded Battle Cry of Freedom (page 589), drawing heavily on an article by Lyle Dorsett (“The Problem of Grant’s Drinking During the Civil War,” Hayes Historical Journal vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 37–48, 1983). Neither Chernow nor McPherson spend much time assessing the evidence that exists, and while McPherson – who was writing a single-volume survey of the entire Civil War – can perhaps be forgiven, Chernow should have done more critical analysis. In particular, Chernow should have paid more attention to the many dogs that did not bark.

There are several anecdotes showing Grant was able, on occasion, to take a drink without going on a “binge.” There are also indications that those close to Grant knew they could offer him a drink without risking anything. For example, there is an oft-cited story in which Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, one of Grant’s corps commanders during the Vicksburg campaign, suggests Grant should take a break from studying how to crack the Confederate citadel, “join with us in a few toasts, and throw this burden off your mind”  (page 253). There are several other, similar stories, including bottles of alcohol being sent to Grant by his own family. My point is not that Chernow has misrepresented anything.  My point is that the full story is more complex than Chernow presents. Did Grant drink?  Certainly. Did he sometimes drink too much? Almost surely. But between the uncontrollable binge-drinker and ordinary social drinker, there lies a wide range of alternative realities in which I think the truth lies, and the author should have mined this vein.

Some of the best parts of the book are the several chapters devoted to Grant’s political career, including his two terms as President (and his effort at a third term in 1880). The traditional view of Grant as a politician generally ranges from corrupt to inept, and there certainly is much to criticize here – which Chernow does. But he also points out that Grant’s over-riding motivation for getting in to politics was to secure what had been purchased with blood during the war: the freedom of the former slaves, not only theoretically, but as a practical matter. Frederick Douglas, an appropriate authority on this, said, “That sturdy old Roman, Benjamin Butler, made the negro a contraband, Abraham Lincoln made him a freeman, and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant made him a citizen” (page 858). Grant’s embrace of the ethically-challenged Stalwart wing of the Republican Party was driven by the very valid fear that the more reform-minded wing of the party was willing to sell out the Republicans in the South, who were mostly freed slaves. The entire reason for toying with a third term in 1880 was the fear of what a Democratic victory might mean for the freedmen.

This biography, although very well-written, is not for a casual reader – at 1,200 pages, it is not a weekend read – but it rewards those who reach the final page, when William T. Sherman and Mark Twain sit down with cigars and whiskey to talk about their friend, after his funeral.

James F. Epperson is a 60-something child of the 60s (both 19th and 20th Centuries) who taught university mathematics for 21 years before moving to Ann Arbor, MI to take a position in academic publishing. He is a frequent speaker at CWRTs, maintains a number of Civil War-related websites and lives modestly in Ann Arbor with his wife of 35 years and their elderly Border Collie. Check-out his websites Civil War Causes, Petersburg Siege, and JFEpperson.org

Book Review: “The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865”

Let me say right up front that The War Outside My Window is NOT the feel-good book of 2018. In fact, it is just the opposite. The war is lost, the boy dies, and animals are harmed in the passing of this time period in Georgia. Nevertheless, with a cup of good coffee and a positive attitude, it is one of the most interesting books published in a long time.

This book is the diary of young LeRoy Gresham, the youngest son of an affluent slaveholding family in Macon, Georgia. He was twelve years old in 1860, and an invalid due to a combination of a serious leg injury from a fallen chimney that crushed his leg and skeletal tuberculosis, specifically Pott’s disease. Google up some images of this affliction and you will get a good idea of the misery that was a daily companion to this bright, inquisitive, witty, well-read, and sensitive young man.

LeRoy began keeping his journal on June 12, 1860, with a very mundane entry: “Mother has gone to the serving society.” As time continued, he began to find his own, very authentic voice. The diary is not a series of maudlin, self-pitying entries. Rather it is a view of the South from the beginning to the end of the Civil War, as Macon reacted to secession and gathered men for volunteer soldiering (in a state with a governor who did not necessarily want to send them), until the surrender at Appomattox and beyond. Interwoven among the usually inaccurate news reports, Leroy gave evidence of his deteriorating physical condition.  This amazing young man who read Greek and Roman classics along with Shakespeare and Dickens, loved math and solving puzzles, and played chess on a very high level, lay in his bed and observed the collapse of his world. To relieve the tedium of dying, his family somehow came up with a cart or small wagon to relieve his bedridden condition. A relative or more often, a young slave, pulled him around town so that LeRoy could immerse himself in the goings-on of the day.

News came in the form of newspapers, letters, and gossip. The reader will be struck with the military inaccuracies, especially as to casualty counts. Young LeRoy read every newspaper he could get and bemoaned the diminishing sources of current news as the war went on. His immediate family was impacted directly. His older brother, Thomas, served in Lee’s army in Virginia and many others in the extended group of family and friends served as well. The home front deteriorated, as evidenced by the actions of LeRoy’s mother and sister. New bonnets were made of palmetto, and dresses were repurposed in order to attend local gatherings and church. Homespun cloth was sent up from the family plantations along with meat and vegetables for the table, and to share among the less fortunate.

LeRoy wrote about everything, from social events to family matters. Deaths (many), weather (hot or raining, it seemed), and his pets were recurring topics. He named his various dogs for Confederate generals, but most were ill-behaved and ended up changing ownership. His declining health was addressed regularly, and the reader gets a solid look at family medicine in the 1860s. LeRoy’s parents could afford the very best for their son, but without an understanding of germs or disease, most of the efforts of doctors did little to alleviate his discomfort or alter the progression of his disease. Both the Preface and the Appendices have detailed accounts of how editor Janet Elizabeth Croon, publisher Theodore P. Savas, and Dennis A. Rasbach, MD, FACS worked to solve the mystery of LeRoy’s diagnosis. His care is analyzed piece by piece and compared to modern medicine, making for fascinating, if painstaking, reading. LeRoy wrote: “I am weaker and more helpless than I ever was . . . I have been sick with a pain in my back and heart all day . . . Saw off my leg.” He did not realize until the very end of his life that he was dying, and the reality of this came as a shock to young LeRoy.

Editor Janet Croon, an educated educator in her own right, has given the reader much more than just a glimpse into the past. The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Journal of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865 presents the compelling story of a doomed young man of white privilege who was dying at exactly the same time the southern dream of an independent Confederacy was dying. Eventually, both fail. Without the efforts of Croon, Savas, and Rasbach, LeRoy Gresham’s voice, which speaks as powerfully to us from the past as does that of Anne Frank, would have continued to be unheard. Readers will remember LeRoy long after the covers of the book have closed. As sad and difficult as this book is to read, it is definitely an important addition to the understanding of the Southern home front.

Janet Elizabeth Croon, Editor–The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865

Savas Beatie, LLC, 2018

401 pages

Publisher’s Preface, Introduction, Medical Forward, Dramatis Personae, LeRoy Wiley Gresham Obituary, Postscript, Medical Afterwords, Appendix, Note on Sources, Acknowledgements, Index, Maps and Illustrations

Book Review: “The Limits of Loyalty: Ordinary People in Civil War Mississippi”

Easy as it is to imagine the Confederacy made up of a solid group of Union-hating slave owners and their friends, the reality of the situation is much more complex. Jarrett Ruminski, a freelance writer, researcher, and consultant, investigates this reality in his dense, well-researched book The Limits of Loyalty: Ordinary People in Civil War Mississippi.

If the reader can get past the first chapter, he or she will be in for an enjoyable, informative read. Chapter One, “A Contest of Passion, Not Reason,” lays out a great deal of academic vocabulary necessary to understanding the ordinary Mississippians and their reaction to secession, then to occupation, and finally defeat. Phrases like “Protective Nationalism,” and prefixes like micro and macro become important ideas as author Ruminski discusses whether or not taking an oath of loyalty is a serious commitment–or not. He uses primary sources from planters who did not serve in the Confederate Army to debate and defend personal decisions to continue selling cotton to the North, and using whatever means necessary to go through Union lines to obtain the material goods that defined life prior to the outbreak of war. Suffice it to say that a Mississippian’s money was not always where his or her mouth was alleged to be.

Mississippi was under Union control early in the War. Her location along one of the most vital waterways in America made her strategically important to the Union and the Confederacy. Politically and socially, the state was one of the most rabid in the Confederacy. She seceded early (January 9, 1861) but was under Union control from May 1862 onward.

Because people had to continue their lives even with the Union Army next door, local people had to make pragmatic changes One example, given early in the book, was the Oath of Allegiance to the Union. At first, Mississippi newspapers railed against taking the oath, calling for “unyielding resistance under all circumstances,” from the state’s citizens. As the war continued, the problem of loyalty became more complex until the oath became a practically meaningless promise for southerners who found that feeding their families and maintaining their property took precedence over mumbling mere words.

Some argued that they were even more loyal to the Confederacy by taking the Union oath, for it enabled them to continue sending food and goods to the Confederate armies in the field.

Mississippi sent about 80,000 white men to fight for the Confederacy, leaving many households under the control of women. In Natchez, for instance, women had to deal daily with Union occupation. Ruminski clearly defines the daily, micro loyalties of the women who ran small households, plantations, and everything in between. Macro loyalties–those to the ideals of a separate Confederate nation–often took second place to providing for and maintaining a household. Mississippi civilians often “held their noses” and did what was necessary to continue on in the face of economic collapse, even if it meant trading with Yankees for household staples.

One particularly interesting chapter, “Prey to Thieves and Robbers,” concerns the problems made by Confederate deserters who often travelled as a group, pretending to be partisan rangers. Deserters had many other reasons to leave the army besides “defending hearth and home from Union invasion.” In fact, Ruminski questions the historiography of this idea, writing that “Military defeat, Union occupation, economic collapse, and the breakdown of law and order facilitated opportunistic collective violence among Confederate deserters, whose localized group attachments underlay their indiscriminate pillaging of the Mississippi home front.”

As I said, this book is dense, as in full of facts and information. The Appendices are copious, and the entire book is a very intellectual undertaking. It is not an easy read, nor is it a comfortable one. If a reader is looking for a way to prop up a “Lost Cause” mentality, this book is not the right choice. If, however, a reader is looking for a serious study of the Mississippi home front in an effort to better understand the Confederacy as it was, not as how you hoped it would be, The Limits of Loyalty will suffice nicely.

Jarret Ruminski, The Limits of Loyalty: Ordinary People in Civil War Mississippi.

University Press of Mississippi, 2017.

2 Appendices, Notes, Bibliography, Index, 284 pp. total.