by the turn of the twentieth century the Grays came under increasing
criticism from a society changed by the cumulative effects of urbanization,
industrialization, and professionalization. Working-class and Progressive
detractors considered the Grays' privileged members (with some justification)
"tin soldiers" who were perfectly willing to stay at home
during times of war, all the while supplying low-born substitutes
to fill up depleted ranks. Regular Army officials and National Guardsmen
also harbored grievances against independent militia companies,
whom they judged "incompetent, erratic, boastful, and wasteful"
(79). The Grays, however, endured these myriad barbs, maintaining
cohesiveness and camaraderie through the leadership of committed
and well-connected commanding officers. Long after the disappearance
of similar units throughout the U.S., the Grays still live on (unofficially)
as Company B, 145th Infantry, Ohio National Guard.
Grays' footprint upon the social and military history of Cleveland
was perhaps large, yet the fatal weakness of Vourlojianis's work
is the perfunctory treatment of the many forces that molded not
only the company but also the community from which it came. Indeed,
readers will find little contextual analysis within this thin volume.
The opportunity to examine the Grays against the background of nationalism,
sectionalism, Whig and Republican political culture, urbanization,
professionalization, and labor strife is largely lost as Vourlojianis
attends to mundane and repetitive anecdotes detailing the Grays'
many summer encampments, parades, and social soirées. In
addition, the author's warm regard for his subject at times clouds
his historical vision; one cringes upon reading references to "angry
leftists" (109) and the company's role as "a bulwark against
anarchy" (49). Present as well are some factual and interpretive
errors, including a reference to brass Civil War-era cannon barrels
(they were bronze) and the claim that American-British friction
during the 1830s was "muted and even nonexistent on a national
level" (14). Finally, Vourlojianis culls few primary sources
that might provide a fuller picture of the company as a whole. There
is, for example, no use of census or tax lists to underscore the
Grays' socioeconomic dominance, and no comprehensive roster of the
end, The Cleveland Grays accomplishes very little of what
it sets out to do. As institutional, narrative history, it is of
some use to the general reader or to those with a special interest
in Cleveland's military past. As a window through which scholars
might examine an American past, its deficiencies are manifest.
University of Toledo
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