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Civil War History: Archive

March 2020, Volume 66, No. 1

Dec 11th, 2019

Civil War History Journal Vol. 66.1


A Crucial Leavening of Expertise:  Engineer Soldiers and the Transmission of Military Proficiency in the American Civil War
By Mark A. Smith

This article explores the transmission of military engineering expertise within the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War’s first year. The author asserts that a specialized unit known as the engineer company carefully maintained skills before the war and that during the conflict, the men of this company spread their particular knowledge to recruits in new regular army organizations and to new volunteer engineering units during a training period in the winter of 1861-1862. From there, all of the army’s engineer soldiers, both regular and volunteer, shared their expertise by overseeing labor parties during the siege of Yorktown in the spring of 1862, providing critical experience in field engineering to the volunteer soldiers of the eastern army.

“Victory’s Long Review”: The Grand Review of Union Armies and the Meaning of the Civil War
By Cecily N. Zander

This article explores the creation of the Union memory of the Civil War and the legacy of memory and conflict for the wartime generation.  The author analyzes the rhetoric surrounding the Grand Review of Union armies and the frequent comparisons made by observers between the Union victory parade and the triumphal ceremonies of Ancient Rome, arguing that through invoking historical precedent and misapplying historical examples nineteenth-century Americans cast the preservation of the Union as a “victory over history.” This belief in the unprecedented nature of their victory meant the erasure of comparisons to the classical past in subsequent reenactments of the Grand Review—demonstrating the degree to which Union victory assumed an exceptional and dominant place in the war’s memorial constellation for the wartime generation.


Mark A. Smith is a professor of history at Fort Valley State University and is the author of Engineering Security: The Corps of Engineers and Third System Defense Policy, 1815-1861 (2009).  He is currently editing a Civil War journal and memoir by a Union engineer soldier and writing a survey history of the engineers and American coast defense.

Cecily N. Zander is a PhD candidate in history at the Pennsylvania State University. Her work explores how the American West figured in US military and political policy-making throughout the Civil War and Reconstruction.  


Book Reviews

Schermerhorn, Calvin.  Unrequited Toil:  A History of the United States Slavery.  Reviewed by Loren Schweninger.

Pargas, David Alan, ed. Fugitive Slaves and Spaces of Freedom in North America. Reviewed by Aurelia Aubert.

Jackson, Kellie Carter.  Force and Freedom:  Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence.  Reviewed by W. Caleb McDaniel.

Varon, Elizabeth.  Armies of Deliverance:  A New History of the Civil War. Reviewed by Richard Reid.

Teters, Kristopher A. Practical Liberators:  Union Officers in the Western Theater during the Civil War. Reviewed by Andrew S. Bledsoe.

Taylor, Amy Murrell. Embattled Freedom:  Journeys through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps.  Reviewed by David Silkenat.

Quigley, Paul, ed. The Civil War and the Transformation of American Citizenship. Reviewed by Erik Mathisen.

Malavasic, Alice Elizabeth. The F Street Mess:  How Southern Senators Rewrote the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Reviewed by John R. Wunder.

Bolt, William K. Tariff Wars and the Politics of Jacksonian America. Reviewed by Francis M. Curran III.