Thursday, April 24, 2008

Two edited memoirs from U. of Ark. Press: Bergeron on Haynes - "A Thrilling Narrative" and Baker on Bailey "Confederate Guerrilla"

University of Arkansas Press's The Civil War in the West series (ed. Daniel E. Sutherland) is one of the few, and perhaps the only, academic press series entirely devoted to the Trans-Mississippi theater. Its adeptly edited memoirs and other first person accounts are rare gems. The two books mentioned below are particularly important as they provide uncommon insights into the inner Civil War from opposing views. Bailey was a Confederate guerrilla operating in Union occupied northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri, while unionist southerner Haynes fled from Texas to Louisiana and organized a company of scouts.


[A Thrilling Narrative: The Memoir of a Southern Unionist by Capt. Dennis E. Haynes and edited by Arthur W. Bergeron, Jr. (Univ. of Arkansas Press, 2006). Cloth, notes, appendices, bibliography, index. Pp. 190. ISBN: 978-1-55728-811-0 $29.95 ]

This publication marks the first time the Haynes manuscript has seen the printed page since 1866 [apparently, only two known copies of the McGill and Witherow edition remain - take note Paul Taylor]. With connections in both Texas and Louisiana, Dennis Haynes's stong unionist views eventually forced him to flee to the bush, before finally coming into contact with invading Federal forces during Nathaniel Banks's first Red River campaign. Haynes described the retributive period following the withdrawal of the Union army as a "reign of terror". Later, he organized Co. B, First Louisiana Cavalry Battalion Scouts, and served for a three month period during the 1864 Red River Campaign. His military experience ended soon after. Haynes's vivid memoir of his struggle is certainly not reconciliationist in nature, and its portrait of the popular struggle in Louisiana is an insightful contribution to the literature. It is unlikely that anyone more qualified than Art Bergeron could be found to edit the Haynes memoir. The editor's explanatory notes are corrective where needed, and provide in depth background and contextual detail. Also, as with all of the best edited works, additional information is given for individuals, events, and locations specifically mentioned in the text.

[Confederate Guerrilla: The Civil War Memoir of Joseph M. Bailey edited by T. Lindsay Baker (Univ. of Arkansas Press, 2007). Cloth, photos, notes, bibliography, index. Pp. 167. ISBN: 978-1557288387 $29.95 ]

As opposed to Haynes's more immediate account, Bailey's story was written long after the war's conclusion (in 1920), but editor Baker's remarkably expansive notes both address inconsistencies and enrich the value of the text. Writings from Confederate guerrillas are rare to begin with, but Bailey has the added distinction of inhabiting both the regular and irregular military worlds. For the first half of the conflict, he served in the regular forces, initially in the Arkansas state forces at Wilson's Creek, then as a member of the 16th Arkansas at Pea Ridge, the Corinth campaign, and the Port Hudson siege and surrender. The period after his escape from captivity - Bailey's guerrilla career in NW Arkansas and SW Missouri, comprises the bulk of his memoir.


While the dearth of illustrations is a bit disappointing, both books are attractively produced overall, and the full cloth binding and boards (a sadly diminishing tradition among publishers) are a professional and durable touch. In terms of presentation, content, research, and editing, A Thrilling Narrative and Confederate Guerrilla are exemplars of the modern edited Civil War memoir.

1 comment:

  1. Drew, thanks for the kind comments. As for illustrations, I simply was not able to find any of the characters mentioned most in the book. If you read the text closely enough, you will have noticed that Haynes mentioned that a Confederate officer had taken an image of Haynes (probably as a civilian) from Haynes's wife.


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