Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 11: September 1864-May 1865

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 11: September 1864-May 1865

Article excerpt

The Papers of Jefferson Daws, Volume 11: September i864-May 1865, edited by Lynda Lasswell Crist. LSU, January 2004. $85

Volume 11 completes the wartime epoch of the Davis Papers and maintains the superb editorial standards of preceding volumes. The unremitting pace of deterioration in Confederate military, economic, and political affairs detailed in the preceding volume accelerates and no longer includes any good news from Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. Such good news as Davis receives all proves illusory in these final days. In desperation Davis returns his old enemy Joseph Johnston to command as Atlanta falls, but the result is only the gradual withering away of a retreating army with the loss of Georgia and then South Carolina. Despite his receipt of grim reports from all, Davis's own letters retain dignity and energy, attention to detail and the evolution of a doomed strategy aimed at saving through negotiation some fragments of a vanishing government. As late as April i, Davis writes to Lee of his plans to enlist slaves in the Confederate armies, theoretical "companies battalions or regiments" about which Lee responded hastily and distractedly even as he sought a line of retreat for the residue of his army from Petersburg toward Lynchburg. …

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