"Pecos Bill": A Military Biography of William R. Shafter (review)
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BOOK REVIEWS289 would have been regarded as evidence of a barbarous purpose to cause his death" (295-96). A second source of the work's value lies in Early's insights as an experienced, highly competent combat commander. Autobiographical Sketch and Narrative contains a wealth of passages that depict the problems faced by an officer in battle. Such passages go far toward reminding the armchair strategist that war is a much more uncertain business than it appears when one is looking at lines and arrows on a map. "I have known," Early writes, "important movements to be suspended on the battlefield, on account of reports from very gallant officers that the enemy was on one flank in heavy force, when a calm inspection proved the reported bodies of the enemy to be nothing more than stone or rail fences. Some officers, while exposing their lives with great daring, sometimes fail to preserve that clearness of judgment and calmness of the nerves which is so necessary to enable one to see things as they really are during an engagement" (14). Third and most important, Autobiographical Sketch and Narrative forms one of the most important primary sources for Early's 1864 campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley. By this period of the war, he had risen through brigade and division command to the rank of lieutenant general in charge of the Second Corps of Lee's army. In the summer of 1864, when Lee detached Early's corps for extended service in the Valley, Early repulsed a Federal expedition under Major General David Hunter and, in his famous raid, advanced to the outskirts of Washington, D.C. After this auspicious beginning, however, Early was defeated in several sharp battles by Major General Philip Sheridan, until finally in March 1865 public outcry forced a reluctant Lee to remove him from command. Early deserved a better fate—as he was the first to admit—and indeed the concluding chapters of his book form one long defense of his operations. In it, he blames his defeat chiefly on the Federal superiority in cavalry and the weakened condition of his own outnumbered troops. He makes a good case, although, predictably, he is less than fair to the role played by Federal valor, Sheridan's vigorous leadership, and his own occasional mistakes. Mark Grimsley Ohio State University "Pecos Bill": A Military Biography of William R. Shafter. By Paul H. Carlson. (College Station, Tex.: Texas A&M Press, 1989. Pp. xiii, 225. $34.95.) William R. Shafter served a long career in the United States Army, climaxed by his command of the 1898 expeditionary force that went to Cuba. His record is largely unknown, except for the few months in 1898 290CIVIL WAR HISTORY when he was in the public limelight and seemed to be unable to handle the responsibilities of command. Paul H. Carlson has written a "military" biography of Shafter, concentrating on his years in the late nineteenthcentury Indian-fighting army. The result is an interesting, though uneven, account of his professional activities, but the man seldom emerges from behind the officer. Shafter began his military service when he volunteered for the army in 1861. His career began to differ from others when he received an assignment to command one of the African American units created in 1863. In 1865, after a few months of retirement, he received a commission in the regular army as lieutenant colonel with one of the newly established African American units. Shafter helped recruit the Forty-first Infantry and then went with it to Texas, where he served for several decades. During that time period, he experienced both the normal tedium of army life on the isolated frontier and the infrequent action of pursuing Native Americans and white outlaws across the rugged terrain of Texas and Mexico. Later, he served in Arizona and California and was peripherally involved in the last Indian campaigns. In 1894, his new regiment, the First Infantry, helped break the 1894 Pullman Strike in southern California . This somewhat gruff officer was promoted to brigadier general in the late 1890s. Because he had not developed any political enemies and seemed innocuous, in 1898 Shafter was chosen to command what became the...


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