They Were Ready for a War That Never Arrived
By Scott McArthur
Caxton Press, $18.95, 350 pages
Books on the Civil War tend to focus on events that took place in the East, and for good reason. Little happened out West, either in Oregon or California. Though there was some concern about the recent influx of migrants, the populations of these states were so small that it had little impact. Most settlers were more worried about Indian attacks than the major battles of the War. In this book, Scott McArthur explores the role that the Pacific Northwest played during the Civil War. Even though Oregon was a new state, people from the South and deserters from the Union settled there. At first, Oregon refused to pick a side or raise the requested troops. Instead, the state’s few volunteer regiments fought bands of Indians who refused to settle on the reservations, which were east of the Cascades.
This book had potential, but it also had a hard time fitting into itself. The first part starts off chronologically, then delves into thematic territory. If this book had stuck with one or the other, it would have been vastly improved. Also, the focus on certain people and their lives after the War was distracting and it was never explained why this was needed.
Reviewed by Kevin Winter