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174CIVIL WAR HISTORY During the early days of the Civil War, Lee came to the favorable attention of Navy Secretary Welles. However, Lee was surprised when Welles chose him, over many other available officers, to command the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron in September, 1862, with the rank of acting rear admiral. For the next two years, Lee's squadron did its job with deliberate efficiency. At its height, Lee commanded over one hundred ships which patrolled the thousands of miles of coast, rivers, sounds, and inlets on the Atlantic Coast between southeastern Virginia and the southern boundry of North Carolina. Lee's knowledge of the coast, from his early days with the Coast Survey, along with his good business qualities and untiring appetite for precise and detailed work, made his blockade effective and profitable. Lincoln's Lee is a valuable addition to the scholarship of Civil War naval history, particularly in its rich and detailed work on the longneglected naval blockade, an area whose standard work is still the century -old study by James R. Soley. It is unfortunate that the authors could not have spent more time on the pre-Civil War navy, whose history has been neglected, especially on its struggle to reform and humanize as well as modernize itself. The authors with their focus too firmly set upon Lee, omit or barely mention such important early naval issues as the campaigns to end the practices of flogging and issuing grog, the battle to make officer promotions based on merit rather than seniority, and the rapidly evolving military technology and steam engineering of this era. Some attention to these topics and perhaps less detail on Lee's numerous business and real-estate activities would have served to make this book a well-rounded study of the early American navy, as well as the definitive biography of S. P. Lee. This problem of emphasis lies not with the authors but with Lee and serves to answer the initial query of why historians have neglected him. Lee always did his duty; and toward this end he always performed his assignments with dedication, integrity, discipline, and a "painstaking attention to detail" that made him the ideal staff officer. But in Lee, driving ambition and sensible business practices always seemed to be linked. He did not have the willingness to take great risks, as did a Farragut or Porter, and therein may lie an important reason for previous obscurity. Gerard A. Forlenza Claremont Graduate School Zachary Taylor: Soldier, P^ter, Statesman of the Old Southwest. By K. Jack Bauer. (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1985. Pp. xxiv, 327. $29.95.) The historiography of the twelfth president reveals a long span of neglect from 1892 when O. O. Howard's life of Zachary Taylor appeared to 1941 when Holman Hamilton brought out the first of two volumes, BOOK RENTEWS175 followed by thesecond in 1951. Brainerd Dyer's singlevolume, published in 1946, devoted about one half of its space to the Mexican War. There is therefore a place for this modern, balanced one volume life. K. Jack Bauer's book is a welcome addition to the Southern Biography Series. Zachary Taylor was neither a great general nor a great president. Bauer sees little to commend in his subject's life, limning him warts and all. In some respects it is difficult for a biographer to get inside Taylor. His papers were burned by Yankee soldiers when they sacked his son Richard's Fashion Plantation in 1863. Beyond this there is the question of how much was inside the blustering soldier called "Old Rough and Ready." Bauer concludes, "He was a man of limited emotional and intellectual capacity who appears to have developed a nearly impenetrable mask" (p. 327). The son of a minor Virginia aristocrat who migrated to Kentucky, Taylor benefited from family connections and friends. Without a formal education, he became a first lieutenant in the United States Army in 1808 at the age of twenty-three. During the War of 1812 he successfully defended Fort Harrison against a heavy Indian attack, for which he was promoted to brevet major. The years between the War of 1812 and the Mexican...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 174-177
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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