by Kenneth J. Heineman
New York: New York University Press, 2012. Pp. x, 386.
Illus., notes, index. $35.00. ISBN: 081477301X
An American Family at War
Prof. Heinemann (Angelo State) gives us a look at the life and work of the men and women of the extended Ewing clan of Ohio, once among America’s most influential political families. In the half century before the Civil War the family patriarch Thomas Ewing (1789-1871) rose in Ohio politics and then on the national stage as a Whig, serving in the senate and was a cabinet member under three presidents. Three of his sons became brigadier generals in Union service during the Civil War, Thomas Ewing Jr., who later also served in Congress, Hugh Boyle Ewing, and Charles Ewing, and his daughter Ellen Ewing married his foster-child William T. Sherman, who overshadows the rest.
Heinemann covers the lives of each of the Ewings, and their role in the war, within the framework of their times. He often offers insightful looks into family life of the day, as well as the complex politics of slavery, abolitionism, and union, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the often overlook religious tensions of the times, as the family converted to Catholicism, then much despised in America.
Most of the book is, of course, devoted to the role of the Ewings in the Civil War, as the sons in virtually every theatre, fighting at Second Bull Run, Antietam, Vicksburg, in the Trans-Mississippi, and, of course, marching through Georgia with their brother-in-law. Along with their father, all of the Ewings were also quick with advice for Lincoln on Emancipation and other issues.
Although perhaps less critical than a look so influential a family might have been, Civil War Dynasty is a valuable work for anyone seriously interested in the Civil War or in American social and political life in the mid-nineteenth century
Note: Civil War Dynasty is also available in several e-editions.