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l64CIVIL WAR HISTORY Tucker writes with great sympathy and passion for his subject. One wonders if he did not fall into the trap that biographers often do, whereby they become so captivated by their subjects that they lose objectivity. Did Bannon have no warts? Did he ever err in judgment? What were his views on slavery? These are small matters, however. Tucker's is a moving account of a story that needed to be told. Both of these books add to the increasing awareness of the religious dimensions of the Civil War, most especially of the part played by Catholics. Both books are a further reminder that when each side is convinced that its cause is God's cause, there is little room and not much desire for compromise and amicable solutions. Cultural tunnel-vision and ardent nationalism mixed with religious passion is a sure recipe for intolerance, violence, and unthinking bravado. David B . Chesebrough Illinois State University Richard Taylor: Soldier Prince ofDixie. By T. Michael Parrish. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992. Pp. xiv, 553. $34.95.) Richard Taylor is well known to many students of the Middle Period for his valuable memoir, Destruction and Reconstruction: Reminiscences ofthe Late War (1879). Others may recall that Taylor, a Louisiana sugar planter given to the high life, was the son of President Zachary Taylor and rose to be one of the Confederacy's seventeen lieutenant generals in the Civil War, one of three officers to reach that rank without having gone to the U.S. Military Academy—the other two non-West Pointers were Wade Hampton of South Carolina and Nathan Bedford Forrest of Tennessee. Taylor has been the subject of several scholarly articles or essays as well as a primary or secondary figure in other books about the campaigns of the Civil War. Now T. Michael Parrish offers this thorough, descriptive, and analytical biography, one based on his Ph.D. dissertation completed at the University of Texas at Austin. Parrish has conducted exemplary research in numerous archives across the nation and investigated all phases of Taylor's life. The author has done a fine job in presenting a rounded picture of Taylor's antebellum and postbellum years in addition to a detailed treatment ofhis wartime service. Indeed, readers are cautioned not to neglect the first three chapters, which reveal much about the antebellum South and Louisiana in particular. Parrish is especially good on defining the importance of slavery in Louisiana's society and economy . That assessment dovetails with Taylor's role as a pro-secessionist at his state's secession convention, where he served as chair of the committee on military and naval affairs. Taylor held a longstanding interest in military matters but no prewar military rank. He exerted influence through his position as state senator and owner of one of Louisiana's largest sugar plantations. Parrish documents Taylor's precarious personal finances, elegant social life, BOOK REVIEWS165 and useful family relationships, such as being the brother-in-law of Jefferson Davis. These interconnections probably preordained Taylor to gain some sort of state or Confederate military appointment, but in contrast to more prominent Southern political leaders such as Howell Cobb, Louis T. Wigfall, and Robert Toombs, Taylor turned out to have real tactical talent and merited field command in combat, as Parrish shows. A drawback, however, was Taylor's health. Parrish demonstrates that in several instances, due to chronic rheumatoid arthritis, Taylor was unable to exercise the responsibilities of his rank. The malady also had been troublesome to the general before the war, requiring time away from his plantation and special regimens and treatments. The heart of the book is Parrish's excellent portrait of Taylor as a general, from neophyte in the East to experienced campaigner in the West. Starting as an unpaid civilian adviser to Gen. Braxton Bragg in Pensacola, Florida, Taylor was elected colonel of the 9th Louisiana infantry regiment. Although he saw no combat early in the war, Taylor was promoted over the heads of senior officers to brigadier and command of the Louisiana brigade. This assignment caused tongues to wag about Taylor's family connections to President Davis. Nevertheless, Taylor went on to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 164-166
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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