The subtitle of this book calls it a biography of a Baltimore Confederate. Those who are just starting to learn about the American Civil War might think, Didnít Maryland stay in the Union during the Civil War? What is a person from Maryland doing in the Confederate Army?
Maryland was a border state; many of its citizens wanted it to secede from the Union as Virginia and other states did. The Union, on the other hand, did not want Maryland to secede: that would mean that Washington, D.C. would be surrounded by Confederate territory. Baltimore in particular was a hotbed of Confederate sympathy, and Isaac Ridgeway Trimble was one of those in Baltimore who wanted Maryland to leave the Union.
Trimble was born in Ohio and spent some of his life in Kentucky. He was raised a Quaker (most of whom were against slavery), but he left that church. He was not the only one from the so-called North to go with the South. General Pemberton, who lost Vicksburg in 1963, was originally from Pennsylvania. In the other direction, some Southerners, like General Winfield Scott, stayed with the Union. This book examines from a psychological stance why Trimble and others like him ended up on the other side. Author Leslie Tucker of course mixes in the historical background that Trimble lived in.
Trimble attended West Point and later served as an engineer in the Army. After leaving the military, he became involved in the railroad industry. His engineering background and education took his involvement in this new industry to the highest levels. He and his wife had a home in Baltimore, and he came to recognize that city as his home. He also came to see himself more connected with the Southern culture and viewpoints. When the Civil War broke out he was one of those in Maryland who wanted the state to leave the union.
He led others in destroying bridges and railroad tracks leading into Baltimore when the Union sent troops to Washington through that city. Union forces were sent to calm Baltimore and to ensure that Maryland stayed in the Union. When Trimble realized that Maryland was not going to be able to secede, he joined the Confederate Army in Virginia. He was commissioned a brigadier general in 1861. One of the oldest generals in the Confederate Army, he was a friend of Stonewall Jackson. He led troops in burning bridges and in several battles including Second Manassas, or Bull Run, after which he was promoted to major general. Captured at Gettysburg, he was a prisoner at Johnsonís Island and paroled in 1865. He had wanted to join General Lee, but General Lee surrendered before Trimble could join him. Tucker says that Trimble remained a rebel at heart for the rest of his life.
Tucker provides some black and white photos of Trimble and of scenes from the Civil War period. He also provides endnotes and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, as well as an index. Tucker uses Abraham Maslowís motivation model of hierarchy of needs in this psychological study of Trimble.
Civil War enthusiasts may be a bit off-put by the psychological examination of Trimble, but that is the bookís main purpose. It does provide insight into what might cause a Northerner would join the South. It is also a study of a personís quest of finding his identity; Trimble found his in the Southern cause. The book is recommended to Civil War enthusiasts interested in biographies of Confederate generals. It is also recommended to those interested in psychology, especially the study of a historical person.