This daily feature is an introduction to a full Book Review by Kenneth L. Alford. To read the full text of this review, follow the link below.
There are few books published about Utah Territory during the American Civil War. John Gary Maxwell's The Civil War Years in Utah is the latest addition to that small but growing list. Maxwell is an emeritus professor of surgery at the University of North Carolina and at the University of Utah medical schools, who defines himself as "a revisionist, independent historian." Maxwell is the author of Robert Newton Baskin and the Making of Modern Utah (2013); Gettysburg to Great Salt Lake: George R. Maxwell, Civil War Hero and Federal Marshal among the Mormons (2010); and numerous medical research papers.
This book may be of interest to students of the American Civil War and Utah's territorial period, as it includes some previously unpublished material. For example, the author discloses Utah territorial governor Stephen S. Harding's early associations with Latter-day Saints in Palmyra, New York (121-24). Harding claimed to have been present in Palmyra's Grandin building when the first proof sheet of the Book of Mormon came off the press (123). Maxwell also includes an engaging and extended, albeit speculative, reconstruction of events surrounding Governor John W. Dawson's panicked flight from Utah Territory on December 31, 1861, after having served just three weeks in an office for which the U.S. Senate had not yet confirmed him (95-115).