The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 323
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2oo002 Book Reviews 323
flag during the past half century, much as the victorious Union army "captured"
Dzxze when they played the tune for Lincoln after Appomattox.
On balance, Confederate Symbols provides solid historical background and a
broad but uneven range of commentary on a painful historical controversy. It al-
so validates Faulkner's verdict on the South: "The past is never dead. It's not
Austzn James E. Cousar
Edge of the Sword: The Ordeal of Carpetbagger Marshall H. Twatchell. By Ted Tunnell.
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001. Pp. xiii+326. Acknowl-
edgments, abbreviations, introduction, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-8071-
2659-4- $34.95, cloth.)
"According to the mythology of Reconstruction," Ted Tunnell writes in Edge of
the Sword, "the carpetbaggers were archetypical villains, lowbred northern adven-
turers who descended like vultures on the conquered South" (pp. 1-2). The car-
icature is deeply rooted. "By mid-1868, the notion of carpetbagger infestation
was becoming a Reconstruction legend," Tunnell points out, "in the North as
well as in the South" (p. 127). "Does this quibbling over carpetbaggers make any
real difference-except to a few professors?" Tunnell asks. "My answer is, yes, it
does matter. What millions of people believe about the past influences their un-
derstanding of the present, hence their conduct: (p. 3). In the tradition stretch-
ing from W. E. B. DuBois to Richard N. Current, Edge of the Sword fires a
broadside into the redoubt of Reconstruction ignorance.
Marshall Harvey Twitchell, a Vermont farmer and teacher, served as an enlist-
ed soldier in the Civil War and then volunteered to work for the Freedmen's Bu-
reau in the Upper-Red River territory of Louisiana where he became the
"symbol and substance of the Union occupation" (p. 94). Twitchell, "a battle-
hardened veteran" (p. 7) soon found himself in a war. "Political upheaval, racial
violence, economic panic, and natural disasters hammered the state relentless-
ly," Tunnell writes (p. 169). "Twitchell made a handy scapegoat" (p. 187). White
Louisianans fantasized a black revolt in Red River Parish to justify the murder of
six of Twitchell's colleagues. Later an assassin's bullets wounded Twitchell, re-
sulting in the amputation of his arms. For his black allies, Tunnell notes, "The
stricken carpetbagger who lay before them was symbolic of their own fading
hopes, his crippled, armless body a metaphor for Reconstruction's dying promis-
es" (p. 247). When he recovered, Twitchell moved to Vermont. In 1878, Presi-
dent Rutherford Hayes appointed him as consul in Kingston, Canada, where he
lived until his death in 1905.
The Democratically controlled investigation into the attempted assassination
accused Twitchell of a "litany of corruption" (p. 225). "Marshall Twitchell was
no saint (p. 257), Tunnell admits, but he contends, "No evidence has ever come
to light proving, or even establishing the probability, that he looted the public
treasury of Red River Parish" (p. 258). Instead, he concludes, "Twitchell be-
comes a metaphor for the real tragedy of Reconstruction, the crushing of the
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/375/: accessed March 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.