Rebel Watchdog: The Confederate States Army Provost Guard

Kenneth Radley, Author Louisiana State University Press $29.95 (340p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1468-1
Radley investigates a little-known but important aspect of Confederate history: the role of the provost or military police during the four years of the Civil War. The ``plug uglies'' were a hated feature of wartime life in the South: their varied duties included the suppression of disloyalty and subversion, which gave them a degree of control over civilians unique in American history. The provost's main task, however, was to prevent straggling and desertion in the Southern armies, a mainly unsuccessful effort that Radley contends was a major factor in the Confederate defeat. Supporting his argument well, he presents startling facts. One learns that some 15,000 stragglers were absent from Lee's thin battle line at Antietam, and that by the autumn of 1864 no less than 100,000 men had ``seceded'' from the war on a permanent basis. According to the author, a Canadian army officer, the only task the provost guard performed ``to the satisfaction of all'' was its control of the roughly 200,000 Union soldiers captured in the war. Illustrations. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989
Release date: 08/01/1989
Paperback - 360 pages - 978-0-8071-2173-3
Ebook - 350 pages - 978-0-585-31872-1
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