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book reviews275 From Desert to Bayou: The Civil War Journal and Sketches of Morgan Wolfe Merrick. Edited by Jerry D. Thompson. (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1991. Pp. vi, 135. $40.00.) In this relatively brief but lively journal, a young Texan describes with words and drawings several significant events in the Southwest during the first three years of the Civil War. Morgan Wolfe Merrick migrated with his family from New York a decade before conflict began in the United States. During the late 1850s he worked for a printer in San Antonio and visited Mexico where he observed its internal struggle. After the Civil War he married, became a surveyor, and died at the state Confederate veterans home in the early twentieth century. Merrick began his written account by describing the capture of United States forces at San Antonio by Texas volunteers in February 1861. As a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle, he commented on its part in those events. His company then joined the Second Texas Mounted Rifles under Lt. Col. John R. Baylor as they occupied military posts in West Texas and the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico during the spring and summer of 1861. On the march he recorded observations of plants and animals as well as rock paintings by Native Americans. For several weeks his unit was stationed at Fort Davis in the Trans Pecos region, where he met Mescalero Apache chiefs and searched for minerals. In July the company advanced to EI Paso and into New Mexico where Baylor occupied Fort Fillmore and captured the Union troops that had held that post. There Merrick became a hospital steward and described treatment of the ill and injured. From that point the chronology of the journal becomes more difficult to follow as Merrick included few dates and presented some events out of order. During his return trip to San Antonio he recorded the capture of runaway slaves. After brief medical service on the Rio Grande, Merrick joined the Third Regiment of the Arizona Brigade. He described the campaigns of that regiment in Louisiana during 1863, including the raid across the Atchafalaya River to help seize the Federal camp and supplies at Berwick Bay in June. Throughout he exhibited a sense of humor and offered accounts of interesting individuals. Forty-four of Merrick's sketches, twenty-nine in color, illustrate this volume. They depict San Antonio before and at the beginning of the war, his travels in West Texas and New Mexico, and camp and battle scenes in Louisiana. Jerry D. Thompson, the author or editor of several books on the Civil War in the Southwest, provides an informative introduction on Merrick's life and journal. The notes offer useful information on persons, places, and events mentioned by Merrick, although some additional clarification of the vague chronology would have been helpful. 276civil war history This volume is also valuable because the author served in the regiment of John R. Baylor in New Mexico and with the brigade of James P. Major in Louisiana—units for which there are few accounts. The sketches probably are the only ones available for some of the battles, camps, and marches of that period. Alwyn Barr Texas Tech University Frank Lawrence Owsley, Historian of the Old South: A Memoir. With Letters and Writings of Frank Owsley. By Harriet Chappell Owsley. (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1991. Pp. xviii, 223. $24.95 cloth; $14.95 paper.) At times, the message matters more than the messenger. Who Frank Lawrence Owsley was, for example, is of less moment to historians than what he wrote and its impact on our understanding of the Old South. As the chronicler of Confederate diplomacy in France and England, still more as a pioneer in uncovering the reality of white yeomanry in the slave states, where hitherto planter, poor white, and black alone were thought to dwell, Owsley gave himself a lasting reputation; scholars today still follow the paths he blazed. They need no biography to know what a debt we owe to him, and to his wife and unrecognized ally in research, Harriet Chappell Owsley. Certainly they do not need this one by Mrs. Owsley herself. This...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 275-276
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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