Thursday, September 24, 2015

Civil War in Texas and the Southwest by Roy Sullivan

Civil War in Texas and the Southwest by Roy Sullivan is a fine narrative of the Civil War battles in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. I discovered Sullivan's work while preparing for my class on "Texas in the Civil War."

Battle of Sabine Pass
The book contains descriptions of the well-known Texas engagements at Galveston (Galveston, TX I and Galveston, TX II), Sabine Pass (Sabine Pass, TX I and Sabine Pass, TX II), and Palmito Ranch (Palmito Ranch, TX). Sullivan also includes the out-of-state battles at Val Verde (Valverde, NM) and Glorieta Pass (Glorieta Pass, NM).

Battle of Galveston
What I liked best about Sullivan's book were his descriptions of actions in the Rio Grande Valley and on theGrande Valley were fought by two Tejanos: Santos Benavides, a staunch supporter of secession and Confederacy, and Juan Cortina, the “fearless, self-possessed, and cunning” fighter who was aligned with the Union. One of my students discovered a link supported by the University of Texas Pan American called Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail, which is worth visiting.
Texas Gulf Coast. The battles in the Rio

Union Lieutenant J. W. Kittredge led the assaults along the Texas coast. He captured Aransas Pass, burned homes on Mustang Island and Matagorda Island, and raided undefended coastal villages and stole food and supplies. Kittredge failed to take Corpus Christi and was eventually captured by Confederate forces.
The book focuses 

Sullivan's book focuses on the military engagements in Texas and the Southwest. It does not discuss the activities of Texas units, such as the Texas brigade, in other theaters of war. The author does not describe the role that civilians played in war effort or the Gainesville Hangings, Nueces Massacre, and Juneteenth. The author uses invented dialogue or what appears to be invented dialogue in describing some of the battles, which straddles the fence between historical fact and historical. The absence of footnotes detracts from its use by historians. In spite of these issues, I found that the book was most enjoyable to read.

Sullivan is a retired US Army colonel and author of Scattered Graves: The Civil War Campaigns of Confederate General and Cherokee Chief Stand Watie

For those readers interested in the topic, the Texas State Historical Association has just issued a free e-book called Civil War In The Lone Star State

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