Recollection of Alexander H. Stephens: His Diary

Recollection of Alexander H. Stephens: His Diary Kept When a Prisoner at Fort Warren, Boston Harbour 1865 by Alexander Hamilton Stephens
by Deb Houdek Rule for Civil War St. Louis

This is the journal of Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America written immediately after the war. It is wonderful. Stephens is a very peculiar little fellow not at all in the mold of any other Civil War character. He’s a very good writer and, in this book, holds back nothing, not even strange little details of his daily hygiene (and I do mean strange).

Stephens was lonely, kept totally isolated from all human contact, and so turned to this journal to both entertain himself and to try to explain to himself and others what he thought of the war, the nation, the other participants of the rebellion, and any other thing that came to mind. There’s a tension to the writing, too, as he did not at that time know what his fate would be. He fully expected to be executed for his part in the Confederacy, a thought he didn’t find as disturbing as being kept in isolated imprisonment the rest of his life. Stephens is in no way a strong, stoic character. He reveals all his fears without sort of self-aggrandizement.

Civil war historian or casual history reader will enjoy this look at a somewhat unknown, but important, participant in the American Civil War.