Civil War Book Review: Greyhound Commander: Confederate General John G. Walker’s History of the Civil War West of the Mississippi

by James Durney on December 30, 2013 · 0 comments

Greyhound Commander: Confederate General John G. Walker’s History of the Civil War West of the Mississippi
by Richard Lowe

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 135 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press (September 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807152501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807152508

 

Greyhound Commander John G Walker Trans-Mississippi by Richard Lowe (LSU Press)Books on the Trans Mississippi Theater do not fill store bookshelves, so anyone interested in this subject always looks forward to a new book.  The publication of an original source document is a special event.  Richard Lowe has rescued General Walker’s manuscript from the “scholar’s only’ dungeon for all of us to enjoy.

The Trans Mississippi Theater fought the civil war starved for resources.  The speed of communications created misunderstandings until 1863 when they were cut off from Richmond.   The long distances and rough country hamper campaigning.  Robert E. Lee using the theater to exile generals that did not measure up only added problems.  Making things worse is a series of relationship problems between major players that resulted in missed opportunities.

John G. Walker is not typical of the general officers sent into exile.  He went west as a well-respected officer with an excellent combat record.  In November of 1862, he takes command of a division of Texans, turning them into possibly the best Confederate division in the theater and leads them in almost every major battle from 1863 to 1865.

A defeated Walker takes his family to England waiting to see what happens in post-war America.  During this time, he writes what became this book.  Once again, Walker is not the typical general officer writing a book but an excellent and experienced writer.  The resulting manuscript became a major source document for scholars.

Careful editing preserves Walker’s prose while footnotes, on the page, cover most reader’s questions.  This is not a detailed history but an overview of the battles and leaders that shaped events in the Trans Mississippi.  Walker’s history of the battles is from a division commander perspective, not a “front, flanks & feints” view.  The Milken’s Bend history is patricianly interesting; being one of the first battles with the USCT.

Kirby Smith’s decision to take Walker’s division from Taylor during the Red River Campaign makes a good read.  Written while the “wound” is still fresh, there is more than a whiff of politics and anger.

This small book is a pleasant read.  The prose is crisp and footnotes answer most questions.  There is a comprehensive Bibliography and a full index.

This is a real addition to our knowledge of the Trans Mississippi Theater.

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