The History of the Confederate States Marine Corps, and: Biographical Sketches of the Commissioned Officers of the Confederate States Marine Corps, and: Service Records of Confederate Enlisted Marines (review)
- Civil War History
- The Kent State University Press
- Volume 27, Number 1, March 1981
- pp. 89-91
- View Citation
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWSOV destiny "to overspread and possess" adjacent weak nations. The agents of Manifest Destiny were zealots proclaiming die highest patriotic objectives . Although, says Brown, "the leaders might profess goals of freeing the people of neighboring lands from tyrannical or inept rulers, . . . one and all they sought glory for themselves" (p. 459). Their followers were young adventurers, waterfront rabble, businessmen willing to wager a few dollars for huge stakes, and Southern extremists eager for new slave territory. The story covers the entire nineteendi century, beginning widi a few introductory chapters dealing with private plots from Aaron Burr to the end of die Mexican W7ar, and concluding with a chapter on dwindling dreams of expansion from 1861 to 1900. The heart of the book deals with the efforts of Narciso Lopez to seize power in Spanish Cuba, and William W7alker's various campaigns to conquer Baja California and Sonora from Mexico and later to seize and "liberate" Nicaragua. Brown narrates these episodes in detail, giving the reader a clearer view of the day-today activities dian is available elsewhere. The incessant intrigues and the bloody skirmishes become increasingly gripping and filled with suspense as the tragedy of these two would-be dictators, Lopez and W7alker, unfolds. Considering themselves invincible Messiahs, they made spur-of-die-moment decisions about fund raising, mobilizing recruits, acquisition of ordnance and transport facilities, and about military action in die field. Especially useful are Brown's racy capsule biographies of dieir many collaborators— men like O'Sullivan, Law, Sanders, Doubleday, W7heat, Lockridge, French, Fayssoux, Henningsen, Quitman, Soulé, and many others. Brown treats die diplomatic problems raised by filibustering mainly by showing die difficulties the United States government encountered in trying to enforce neutrality laws at ports where the local populace approved of these private military excursions. The volume rests largely on the printed memoirs of die filibusters. The author gives variant versions when he cannot resolve contradictions . He also has used die major contemporary newspaper accounts, the published diplomatic correspondence, and the large body of secondary material. The bookmaking is first-class, a credit to the publisher. Although die author makes no effort to connect the marauding troops of the 1850s with diose of today, die reader will find himself making comparisons and contrasts between these early filibusters and the guerrillas operating in many parts of the globe in recent years. Philip S. Klein The Pennsylvania State Univ. The History of the Confederate States Marine Corps. By Ralph W7. Donnelly . (Published by the Author, 1976. Pp. xxi, 275.) Biographical Sketches of the Commissioned Officers of the Confeder- 90civil war history ate States Marine Corps. By Ralph W7. Donnelly. (Published by the Author, 1973. Pp. xii, 68.) Service Records of Confederate Enlisted Marines. By Ralph W7. Donnelly . (Published by the Audior, 1979. Pp. xxii, 125. Copies can be ordered from 913 Market Street, Washington, North Carolina 27889.) For nearly a century, students of the Civil W7ar were tantalized by occasional references to Confederate Marines. Now, three volumes by one author have given that obscure Corps a superbly researched, comprehensive , and well-written history. In 1957 and 1959, articles appeared in the Military Collector and Historian and Military Affairs. These articles were entitled "Uniforms and Equipment of Confederate Marines" and "Battle Honors and Service of Confederate Marines." The two articles, written by Ralph W7. Donnelly, contained the most detailed and accurate information that had then been published about Confederate Marines. Not satisfied with an auspicious beginning, Donnelly went on to author the diree-volume history of die C.S.M.C. Before retiring as a United States Marine Corps Reference Historian in 1978, Donnelly had been elected a Fellow of both the Company of Military Historians and the American Military Institute in recognition of his historical research. Most Confederate Marines served near Richmond or at the ports of Mobile and Savannah. Detachments served at Wilmington, Charleston, Pensacola and New Orleans and a few detachments saw service on the high seas. In the destruction and confusion which characterized the last months of the Confederacy, most Marine records seem to have been put to the torch. To gather needed information, Donnelly contacted state and local historical societies. Descriptions of Marine uniforms...