The Deep Waters of the Proud. Volume I of The Imperiled Union,
1861z-865. By William C. Davis. (Garden City, New York: Dou-
bleday ge Company, Inc., 1982. Pp. xvii+316. Preface, introduc-
tion, photographs, documentation, index. $19.95.)
In his preface William C. Davis answers very forcefully the question:
Why another book on the American Civil War? It is a story, he says
"that demands telling and retelling." It is the "watershed" (p. ix) of
American history, an "event by which all others pale in the measure.
. . . It is our Waterloo and Magna Carta, the Glorious Revolution,
io66, the Exodus, and more, all in one" (pp. ix-x). Anyone searching
for a detailed, comprehensive narrative of the Civil War, however, will
be disappointed with this volume, the first in a proposed trilogy enti-
tled The Imperiled Union, 186z-z865. For instance, North Carolini-
ans, and this reviewer is a Tar Heel, will be astounded to learn that
their state does not even warrant an entry in the index. On the other
hand, The Deep Waters of the Proud provides an excellent panoramic,
interpretative view of the first eighteen months of the conflict. It is
definitely history on a broad scale, but with sufficient interesting fac-
tual detail to keep the narrative alive. Not only are battles and cam-
paigns covered, but also the economic, social, political, and diplomatic
developments of the period.
Documentation is very limited and organized by chapters, but in a
volume of this nature extensive footnotes and bibliography are not nec-
essary. Furthermore, Davis, where possible, relies upon a number of
his own splendid volumes in the field. Among them are Breckenridge,
Statesman, Soldier, Symbol; The Battle at Bull Run; The Orphan
Brigade; and Duel Between the First Ironclads.
The author is extremely critical of Jefferson Davis-too much so in
this reviewer's opinion. He is also very hard on George B. McClellan,
yet has kind words for Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. His praise
of Robert E. Lee is sparing, and he calls the Peninsula operation the
Confederate leader's "best campaign" (p. 178).
Deep Waters of the Proud concludes with the Battle of Antietam,
but not because that engagement was a military and diplomatic turning
point of the war, as historians have maintained for so long. "To the
contrary, those final months of 1862 marked a returning point," Davis
says, "for only by then had control of the affairs ... North and South.
... passed once again from the hands of the extremists and returned to
those who led by consensus" (p. xi).
The author is a very able historian and talented writer. Thus it is
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/. Accessed September 1, 2015.