The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Professor Leisy's introduction and careful notes help place
the reader closer to the heavily topical subject matter; and his
service in locating and making available these letters is con-
siderable. We now may understand more clearly why Twain,
in leaving shortly afterwards for the West, acted upon his own
advice (Letter III): "It should be remembered that though
'the pen is mightier than the sword,' it is not near so heavy as
a regulation musket."
JOSEPH JONES
The University of Texas
Experiment in Rebellion. By Clifford Dowdey (Doubleday &
Company, Inc.), 1946. Pp. xxi+455. Illustrations. $3.75.
The American Civil War was not a war between two estab-
lished nations-the Union and the Confederacy-as Jefferson
Davis and many of the Confederate leaders believed. It was,
instead, a rebellion, and a rebellion run by men inexperienced
in the art of rebellion. The failure of these Confederate leaders
to realize the war as a rebellion was, decides Clifford Dowdey, a
main factor in the South's destruction. The correctness of Dow-
dey's conclusion is, of course, debatable. Beyond debate, how-
ever, is the fact that for a first attempt in historical writing
Dowdey's work is an admirable contribution to the history of
the Civil War period.
On the jacket is written, "Experiment in Rebellion is a behind-
the-scenes history. It searches brilliantly into the personalities
who figured so importantly in the life of the Confederacy." This
statement, although being part of the laudatory publisher's
"blurb," is not far from a true summation of the book.
Dowdey's character sketches are terse, but nevertheless, re-
vealing. He describes Jefferson Davis as a man in whom "no
change of concept was possible" and paints him as "a smaller
boy with a bully determined to put up as good a fight as possible
until spectators separated them." He describes Texan John
Reagan as a "solid ... self-reliant doer" who had an "almost
childlike admiration for the highly keyed gentleman [Davis] of
pure intellect." Reagan, explains Dowdey, was one of the few
Confederate leaders to realize the war as nothing more, nor
less, than rebellion; consequently, Dowdey's estimation of Rea-
gan is naturally rather high.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101117/. Accessed October 1, 2014.