To Die in Chicago: Confederate Prisoners at Camp Douglas, 1862-65by George Levy

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  • To Die in Chicago: Confederate Prisoners at Camp Douglas, 1862-65 by George LevyReview by: Gaines M. FosterLouisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association, Vol. 42, No. 2 (Spring,2001), pp. 228-230Published by: Louisiana Historical AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4233743 .Accessed: 17/06/2014 07:23

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  • 228 LOUISIANA HISTORY

    Editorial cartoons were a relatively new print medium in the mid-nineteenth century, and they provide a modern element to the Civil War press coverage. Still, the cartoonists reflected the journalistic mood of the period-a period of particularly crusty and highly partisan editors unfettered by fears of suit who knew neither reticence nor tact. Frequently, the polemics and caricatures in this collection are brutally crude and cruel and show little regard for sensibilities of readers.

    Hostilities toward blacks ran rampant throughout the North and South and became more pronounced when emancipation became an additional policy objective of the war. Northern cartoonists depicted African Americans as inferior and represented them in familiar stereotypes such as the lazy black "Sambo." Ethnic prejudices are equally apparent. The Jews and the Irish proved the favorite targets for artists who depicted Jewish "Shylocks" profiteering at the expense of neighbors and country as well as a drunken Irish "Paddy" staggering about searching for a fight.

    Editor, Kristen- M. Smith, has provided an informative introduction that surveys the print industry of the mid-nineteenth century, the major artists of the period as well as a comparison of the styles of Northern and Southern cartoonists. To facilitate understanding of the cartoons, Smith explains the recurring symbols that were familiar to contemporaries and provides a succinct commentary that places each cartoon in time context. The commentary allows those who are unfamiliar with the period to understand and enjoy the collection and attests to Kristen's thorough research.

    The collection is amusing and instructive. Understanding the humor of a people gives definition to society-definition not readily available in traditional history. The Lines Are Drawn makes a refreshing contribution to Civil War literature.

    McNeese State University Carolyn E. De Latte

    TO DIE IN CHICAGO: Confederate Prisoners at Camp Douglas, 1862-65. By George Levy. (Gretna, La.: Pelican Publishing Company, 1999. 446 pp. List of illustrations, list of tables, acknowledgments, introduction, chronology of events, epilogue, notes, bibliography, index. Cloth $29.95, ISBN 1-56554-331-9).

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  • BOOK REVIEWS 229

    While an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, George Levy became intrigued by a professor's casual reference to Camp Douglas, a Civil War prison which had been located near the campus. Levy went on to become a law professor and practicing attorney, but his fascination persisted. In 1994, he published a history of Camp Douglas, which now appears in a new edition, extensively revised according to the copyright page, from a new publisher.

    In pursuing his fascination, Levy did much research. HE examined the official records, both the published collection and manuscripts in the National Archives, as well as newspapers, diaries, and letters. Employing the material he has gathered, Levy recounts what happened during each phase of Camp Douglas's history. It first served as "a base for recruiting, equipping, and training recruits," next as a temporary camp for Confederate prisoners awaiting parole under the cartel between the Union and Confederate armies that established terms for an exchange of prisoners, and then as a "camp for Union prisoners of war paroled by the South under" that agreement (p. 107). Finally, after the cartel broke down in 1863, Camp Douglas became a prisoner-of-war camp and remained in operation until the summer of 1865. Levy traces developments during each stage, but roughly two thirds of the text discusses the last phase, which is probably of most interest to readers.

    Levy provides a wealth of statistics and information on the operation of the prison camp. He recounts and evaluates the performance of each commander, never hesitating to expose scandals or to criticize the administration of the camp. Levy also tells what life was like for the prisoners. Conditions at Camp Douglas, he concludes, were awful. "Cruelty and hunger" shaped their lives and left them bitter. "Efforts to improve living conditions went almost unnoticed as prisoners were beaten, tortured, and shot, sometimes for no possible reason." (p. 345) Most of the 27,000 Confederate soldiers who passed through the prison suffered illness at least twice, some three times. Nearly 15 percent of them died. Despite the cruelty, horrid conditions, and high death rate, only around 425 Confederates tried to escape; probably half of them were recaptured.

    Levy is clearly appalled by the conditions that led to the deaths of so many prisoners and by the camp's disregard for the proper burial of those who died. He attributes both to the demise of chivalry. Beyond that, Levy offers relatively little interpretation of

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  • 230 LOUISIANA HISTORY

    events at Camp Douglas or their meaning. Nor does he provide much insight into the psychological impact of imprisonment on the Confederates. Nevertheless, because of the useful information compiled during his extensive research, the objectivity with which he recounts events, not to mention the dearth of scholarship on the topic, anyone interested in Camp Douglas or Civil War prisons will want to consult Levy's book.

    Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge Gaines M. Foster

    LINCOLN ON LINCOLN. Selected and edited by Paul M. Zall. (Lexington, Ky.: The University Press of Kentucky, 1999. xiv, 198 pp. Preface, some important dates, introduction, list of abbreviations, notes, selected bibliography, index. Cloth $25.00, ISBN 0-8131-2141-8).

    Any one who has done research at the magnificent Huntington Library in San Marino California knows Paul Zall. He has long been a fixture there, willingly girving lunch-time tours of the gardens to newcomers and sharing his insights on a wide variety of topics.

    Building on his successful earlier book on Lincoln, humor, and storytelling, Zall here has produced, as James McPherson puts it on the dust jacket, "The autobiography Lincoln never had the chance to write." Zall uses two biographical sketches Lincoln himself wrote for the 1860 presidential campaign and adds other material gleaned from letters, speeches, and press reports, all joined together by judicious brief introductory and transitional comments. The result is a book that produces no startling revelations, but it does, as Zall hoped it would, "open a view on the inner struggle to reconcile personal ambition and civic virtue, conscience and Constitution, ultimately the will of God and the will of the people." (p. 1)

    Zall divides this book into seven chapters which take the reader through Lincoln's life from his birth into poverty in 1809 to his death into legend in 1865. Throughout, Lincoln's poetic ability with the English language leaps off the pages to inspire readers and make them think again about the man's greatness and the meaning of freedom and Union.

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    Article Contentsp. 228p. 229p. 230

    Issue Table of ContentsLouisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association, Vol. 42, No. 2 (Spring, 2001), pp. 129-256Front Matter [pp. 129-163]The Frustrations of Property Tax Reform in Louisiana: Bussie v. Long (1966) to "CC '73" and Buddy Roemer's Industrial Tax Exemption Scorecard and the 1991 Gubernatorial Election [pp. 133-162]LHA Fellow: Stephen Webre [p. 164]Merchants in the Transition to a New South: Central Louisiana, 1840-1880 [pp. 165-192]"The Carnival of Death": The Cavalry Battle at Cheneyville, Louisiana, May 20, 1863 [pp. 193-207]LHA Fellow: Warren M. Billings [p. 208]Notes and DocumentsRecords of the Cabildo: Miscellaneous Documents Relating to River Pirates [pp. 209-216]

    Calkins-Orvis House [pp. 217-218]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 219-220]Review: untitled [pp. 220-222]Review: untitled [pp. 222-224]Review: untitled [pp. 224-227]Review: untitled [pp. 227-228]Review: untitled [pp. 228-230]Review: untitled [pp. 230-232]Review: untitled [pp. 232-234]Review: untitled [pp. 234-236]Review: untitled [pp. 236-238]Review: untitled [pp. 238-239]Review: untitled [pp. 239-241]Review: untitled [pp. 241-243]Review: untitled [pp. 243-245]Review: untitled [pp. 245-247]Review: untitled [pp. 247-248]Review: untitled [pp. 248-250]Review: untitled [pp. 251-252]Review: untitled [pp. 252-255]

    Back Matter [pp. 256-256]

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