The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955 Page: 312
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
new nation and the people were beleaguered from the outset,
they have perforce ridden with the generals and marched with the
armies. The writer avoids battlefield gore and technical treatise
of strategy but unavoidably there is the military background.
The plan of the text is traditional, covering the story from
secession to "sunset." This reviewer believes that Southern his-
torians write more effectively about secession and collapse, the
beginning and the ending, and that their studies sag in the middle.
Dr. Eaton's writing on these two phases-main ones they must be
in any study-is most excellent. He depicts secession as a conserva-
tive revolution and also gives emotionalism its proper place. Al-
though' the conduct of the senile, lame duck, "doughface" Bu-
chanan is understandable, there would be possible dissent from
the view that he acted wisely in passing the Sumter crisis to Lin-
coln with a free hand. The witty E. Merton Coulter might com-
ment that it was unfortunate for the country that in this crisis
there sat an aged bachelor with no wife to make up his mind for
him. Always deeply retrospective, the late Charles W. Ramsdell
once wondered if the course of history might not have been hap-
pier had there been a Jackson in the presidency to nip the revo-
lution in the bud in South Carolina.
Dr. Eaton is typical in that he is interested in the failure of the
Confederacy to win the war, a phase of the subject that engrosses
Southern historians particularly. As a reputable and objective
scholar (although Southern origin and sympathy) he makes no
excuses for Confederate ineptitude-other than listing formidable
and inherent weaknesses of the Confederacy which dogged and
doomed it into defeat: structural defects and states' rights dogma;
the blockade; and the one-gallus economy. The writer does not
offer these natural handicaps in extenuation of faulty policies
which he recites most expressively. The mistakes which contrib-
uted to the downfall of the Confederacy were many: inability to
mobilize and utilize the "brains" in the new union for which
Southerners were reputed in the old one; slowness to learn and
to correct errors and reluctance to use authority; ineffective and
bungling finances, logistics, and diplomacy; lapses in judgment
and miscalculations in critical junctures in both civil and military
administration; and failure to exploit the few advantages and
opportunities which the Confederacy did have. The revolution
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955, periodical, 1955; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/m1/359/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.