Sunday, December 27, 2015

Quick Book Review: Lincoln's Citadel: The Civil War in Washington D.C. By Kenneth J. Winkle


Lincoln's Citadel: The Civil War in Washington D.C. 
Kenneth J. Winkle
2014, W.W. Norton & Co.

This is a good, informative book. It has been a few months since I read it and I did not keep a lot of notes, but it is an interesting study, one that I had planned to review, so here it is. It has a nice flowing narrative, which makes it a pleasant and easy read. It is a bit long, but that is fine as it covers a lot of information.

This book is basically a biography of Washington D.C. during the war, though it starts with a good discussion of "the abolition house," where several pre-war anti-slavery Congressmen boarded while the government was in session. I really liked this part and it was a good way to start the book, discussing a key issue of the time.

The different chapters of the book cover many topics about the city during the war, including demographics (with a nice breakdown of the racial makeup in the city, including among various occupations), sanitation, safety (including a description of the conflict between city and Congressional responsibility and authority for providing a police force and how much authority military leaders had) and the influx of African-Americans, both "contrabands" from Virginia and fugitive slaves from Maryland. It also details other concerns like hospitals throughout the city, nursing, the presence of animals in the city and the as rival of thousands of soldiers throughout the war. The organization of the chapters and various topics is a real asset of this work.

This book is a good one that I do recommend. It gives a fine overview of the nation's Capitol during the Civil War. The author discusses many aspects of the city and its people during the war years, and how the war affected the city thorough the influx of soldiers, wounded men, African-Americans and other issues. It is well-organized and formatted and provides an interesting perspective of the city and the challenges it faced.

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