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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 of the mid-nineteenth century. Born in 1 820 in Frankfort, Kentucky, he received a commission in a volunteer company during the Mexican War, served with Zachary Taylor at Monterrey, won a regular commission, and became a member of the U.S. Second Cavalry. After leaving the army in 1848, O'Hara joined forces with the patriot General Narciso Lopez to help liberate Cuba. He further dabbled in bothjournalism and politics and in 1850 wrote "Bivouac of the Dead"—an ode to those American soldiers killed in the Mexican War. During the Civil War, his service as a Confederate officer at Murfreesboro and Mobile, though gallant, was never rewarded with what he sought most dearly, a command of his own. Ironically, as Hughes and Ware point out, it would be Union quartermaster general Montgomery C. Meigs who selected "Bivouac ofthe Dead" as the poem to grace the cemeteries of Union dead. Here the opportunity to discuss the role of poetry and symbolism in regional reconciliation is lost. Indeed, the authors may have missed O'Hara's greatest legacy. Despite this omission and numerous gaps in O'Hara's life due to a lack of primary sources, it is a good biography, one that deserves a place in the library of those interested in the literary aspects of the middle period and the Civil War. Mark R. Grandstaff Brigham Young University A Gentleman andan Officer: A Military andSocialHistory ofJames B. Griffin 's Civil War. By Judith N. McArthur and Orville Vernon Brown. Foreword by James M. McPherson. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Pp. xviii, 362. $15.95 paper.) BOOK REVIEWS2ÓI "A Rising Star of Promise": The Civil War Odyssey of David Jackson Logan, 17th South Carolina Volunteers, 1861-1864. Edited by Samuel N. Thomas Jr. and Jason H. Silverman. Foreword by Patrick Brennan. (Campbell, Calif.: Savas Publishing, 1998. Pp. xx, 255. $29.95.) Anyone who has not done historical research cannot truly appreciate the value ofpublished primary sources—diaries, letters, andjournals. They are the building blocks of all historical writing, but frequently they are inaccessible. When researchers take the initiative to ferret out, edit, and publish primary documents, all historians benefit. Such published documents have been a trend in Civil War history for some years. Now come two compilations that will broaden the scope of research into the Confederacy. "A Rising Star of Promise" is a collection of wartime letters, diary entries, and newspaper accounts that Logan, a member of the 17th South Carolina Volunteers , wrote during the war. His view of the conflict is wide-ranging: as a member of General Nathan "Shanks" Evans's Tramp Brigade, Logan served in the Carolinas; Jackson, Mississippi, during the Vicksburg campaign; and the trenches of Petersburg, Virginia. Such a well-traveled author provides a remarkably broad scope of information for modern researchers. Logan was highly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 260-262
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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