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BOOK REVIEWS 259 loyalty. Banks did more than bolt the party; he endorsed the antislavery doctrine , later joining the Republican party. In a close vote, Banks became the speaker ofthe U.S. House in 1856 and thus was thrust into the national spotlight in the critical years just before the Civil War. His election signaled the first national victory for the Republican party. He considered a presidential run in 1856 but ultimately did not seek the top post; instead he threw his support to John C. Fremont, who lost to James Buchanan. Further, Banks's job as speaker was terminated, for the Democrats regained control of the House. Banks left the House to run for governor of Massachusetts, an election he won. However, he was getting a reputation as a man who placed expediency over principle. He waffled on too many issues. After accepting a lucrative offer from William H. Osborn, president ofthe Illinois Central Railroad, Banks moved to Chicago in i860, only to see the Civil War begin just months later. Wanting to gain political support for the war, President Abraham Lincoln offered Banks a commission as major general. Only three other Union generals outranked Banks, who even outranked Gen. U.S. Grant until 1864. General Banks helped hold Maryland for the Union, but otherwise he was a walking disaster—a military commander who made blunder after blunder as the war progressed. For example, he proved inept in opposing Gen. Stonewall Jackson during the Shenandoah Valley and Red River campaigns. Although the Rebels could not destroy Banks' army in the latter campaign, the disaster left almost all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River in Confederate hands. Soon after, Lincoln reorganized western military departments, a move that effectively stripped Banks of his authority. Banks had failed once to often, and as always he blamed his failures on others, including his subordinates. Although Banks resumed his political career after the war, he would never again become a major player in national affairs. Hollandsworth has produced a valuable volume in which he presents Banks as a man obsessed with "pretense of glory," a trait that prevented him from achieving the reality of glory. Historians interested in the Civil War era and political history should examine this book. James Smallwood Oklahoma State University Theodore O'Hara: Poet-Soldier of the Old South. By Nathaniel C. Hughes Jr. and Thomas C. Ware. (Knoxville: University ofTennessee Press, 1998. Pp. xiii, 208. $32.00.) When I was a young child growing up in the early 1960s, each Memorial Day my World War I "doughboy" grandfather would take me to a small cemetery in Rochester, Michigan. We would walk among the rows of military headstones as he explained the significance of the various wars these monuments memorialized . Toward the end of our annual venture, we would leave through one of 2ÓOCIVIL WAR HISTORY the cemetery gates, on which the following was inscribed: "On Fame's eternal camping-ground their silent tents are spread. And glory guards with solemn round the Bivouac of the Dead." Over thé next three decades, I would see those lines of poetry again—at Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Arlington, and other national cemeteries . That is why Theodore O'Hara: Poet-Soldier of the Old South is such a welcomed addition to the pantheon ofCivil War literature and biography. Regular army soldier, Confederate officer, and poet laureate, O'Hara is the author of one of the most celebrated poems in United States military history, "The Bivouac of the Dead." If this were simply a biography of O'Hara poetry writing efforts, it would prove good reading. Hughes and Ware paint a portrait of a man whose life was one of painful contradictions. O'Hara lived two lives—one romantic, idealistic, self-sacrificing, and dedicated to the Southern code of honor; the other, dark, gloomy, plagued by self-loathing, irresponsibility, acute attacks of insomnia, and long, drunken, brooding binges. This painful duality certainly places him in a list of American poets and writers, including Stephen Crane, Jack London, and Eugene O'Neill. But what also makes this biography particularly valuable is that O'Hara was a direct participant in some of the major events...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 259-260
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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