Harlan’s Civil War Memoirs Published


Since I’ve always suspected that the real purpose of blogging was self-promotion, it gives me great pleasure to announced that a collection of Harlan’s writings edited by myself has been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Supreme Court History (volume 32, number 3.) Harlan wrote about 7 or 8 essays about his experiences in the Civil War that have been cited and quoted many times over the years but they have never been published in their entirety. The essays overlap quite a bit so I selected what I thought were the 3 most interesting ones and added end notes and an introduction. The memoirs are, frankly, an odd read. Harlan actually didn’t see much action himself–he tended to arrive at battles right after all the fighting had stopped. A good indication of Harlan’s effectiveness as an officer is the time he declined to arrest Confederate spy Basil Duke for personal reasons. Duke repaid his kindness by joining Morgan’s Marauders which then went on a terror spree through Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. But the memoirs are a fun read, full of anecdotes about William Tecumseh Sherman, John Morgan, Henry Clay and the spectacle (surely unique in American history) of two future Supreme Court justices trying to kill each other.

And for you Brandeis-philes out there, LDB gets name-checked twice in the same issue and there is a picture of him chilling with Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

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