Back to Top

02.07.20 : Peterson, Dennis L, Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries, published in 2016

About the Author

Dennis L. Peterson, of South Carolina, is a teacher of history and English at the high school and college level. He is now semi-retired and spends time as an author and editor.

Our Review

In 1944, Rembert Patrick wrote and published Jefferson Davis and His Cabinet. Since that time, more than seventy-five years now, no other work had been published on the topic. That is, until 2016, when Dennis L. Peterson’s Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries was published.

In light of the facts that the Library of Congress estimates that one new book on some aspect of the War Between the States is published every day and that none of them addresses the civilian government of the Confederacy, Peterson’s work certainly fills an inexcusable void. What little has been written on this topic is scattered among various journals and magazines, making it difficult for a reader to obtain the “big picture” of the Confederate civilian government. But Peterson’s work gathers all of that scholarship, both old and new, into one convenient book.

Peterson’s work features a separate chapter on each of the six cabinet departments of the Confederacy’s executive branch, explaining what was involved in getting it started, problems encountered and how they were resolved, accomplishments achieved despite great odds, and an overall assessment of the department’s efficacy.. Following each department overview, Peterson includes separate chapters of biographical information about each person who held those cabinet posts.

Civil War News said that this book was “valuable . . . well researched and well written . . . offers readers much helpful information on the inner workings of the Confederate government.” The Journal of Southern History referred to it as “a useful book.” American Reference Books Annual says “the strength of this work is the attention given to [each] man as secretary in the Confederate cabinet.”

This book is certainly needed because few Americans, even many who otherwise “know their history,” know relatively little about this topic. One of Peterson’s stated goals is to begin changing that sad fact by acquainting a new generation of readers with the lesser-known facts about the workings of the Confederate civilian government. If nothing else, it will increase their appreciation for what the Confederates had to overcome to make their government function as long as it did.

Availability of this Book

Go to Amazon. $35 for paperback. Also available on Kindle