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86CIVIL war history dreamed ofmartial glory, and he sought to make the dream reality through a Military Academy education. Long in advance of his June 1860 graduation , he came to view the secession crisis as a morality play. Southerners were defenders of the faith, upholders ofthose principles upon which the nation had been founded. Yankees were infidels or heretics, and abolitionists agents of Satan. Eager for the Apocalypse, he did not wait for the shelling ofFort Sumter before resigning his U.S. Army commission. In brief order he rose from lieutenant of Confederate artillery to colonel of the Forty-ninth North Carolina Infantry. His aptitude as administrator, drillmaster, and tactician brought him brigade command late in 1862 and a division under Early in May 1864. On virtually every field diat drew die Army of Northern Virginia—especially Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania—he won plaudits for his gallant bearing and adroit leadership , while his desire to seek the forefront of action brought him three wounds. His few less-than-satisfactory performances could be attributed to the flawed strategy ofhis superiors or to his inexperience in a new grade or position. As a warrior, Ramseur cuts an impressive path through this book, but rarely does he come to life as a human being. To a large extent the author attempts to characterize him through his prewar and wartime correspondence with relatives and friends and with Ellen Richmond Ramseur, whom he wed in October 1863 and who gave birth to dieir only child short days before his mortal wounding at Cedar Creek. But Ramseur's prose—replete as it is with the most fulsome embattled-Soudierner clichés—does not portray a man so much as a personification ofa region, a society, and an era. By his unswerving adherence to the secessionist ethos, his fervid defense of slavery, his unquestioning condemnation of Northern society and national politicians, and his determination to equate Confederate military success with the Tightness of die Soudiern cause, Ramseur leaves die reader wondering ifhe ever entertained an original thought. Even in his letters to his bride he hides behind jingoistic rhetoric. Despite the authors extensive research and pleasing style, his subject lacks fullness, depth, and dimension. Take away the gilt-spangled uniform, the trappings of Rebel royalty, and Dod Ramseur vanishes. Edward G. Longacre Headquarters Strategic Air Command fohnA. Quitman: Old South Crusader. By Robert E. May. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985. Pp. xviii, 465. Paperback $19.95; hardback $40.00.) John A. Quitman, governor and state legislator of Mississippi, congressman , judical and military leader, has long deserved a first-rate biography. Robert E. May at Purdue University has written the most complete and book reviews87 thorough account of Quitman's life based upon extensive Quitman papers and odier manuscripts, printed primary sources and newspapers, and secondary sources confined primarly to broader topics of Southern history. Actually, few authors have attempted to grapple with Quitman, the man and his career and its implications. May's primary concerns are to explain Quitman's radicalization and to describe his contribution to Southern secessionism, because it is in this particular area that the author believes Quitman deserves fundamental attention. Although Quitman was a transplanted Yankee who came to Natchez at age twenty-two, he very quickly became an insider among Mississippi's elite society. Three years after his arrival, his marriage to Eliza Turner, who was from a wealthy Mississippi family, made him a member of the plantation gentry. In less than a decade, Quitman was elected to the state legislature. Politically, he identified widi the John Quincy Adams wing of the Republican party and did not endorse states rights until the early 1830s, first as a states rights Whig and later as a Democrat. May, therefore, strongly disagrees with William L. Barney who tends to think diat Quitman's political radicalism resulted from a need to prove himself to his fellow Mississippians because ofhis Northern roots. From the time diat Quitman became John C. Calhoun's protégé during the nullification crisis in South Carolina until his deadi less dian three years before the Civil War, Quitman, according to May, was both an American nationalist and a Southern...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 86-88
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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