Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"From Desert to Bayou"

According to Civil War in the desert Southwest expert Jerry D. Thompson, of the half dozen or so published diaries and journals from the 1861-62 Confederate invasion of New Mexico and Arizona, only Morgan Merrick's covers the summer 1861 occupation of the Mesilla Valley by John R. Baylor's 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles. His 77-page journal [originally titled "Notes And Sketches of Campaigns In New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas By A Participant Dr. M. W. Merrick From Fb. 16th 1861 To May 26th 1865 Actual Service, In the Field"] was published in 1991 by Texas Western Press under the title From Desert to Bayou: The Civil War Journal and Sketches of Morgan Wolfe Merrick. Thompson contributed an introduction and detailed notes, but perhaps From Desert to Bayou 's greatest value lies in its dozens of color reproductions of Merrick's sketches and paintings. In addition to many detailed drawings of the regional architecture, Merrick sketched maps, landscapes, camps, forts, and battle scenes. A series of portraits of Mescalero Apaches encountered by Merrick are among the more unusual images. The native New Yorker but pre-war San Antonio resident also fought in Louisiana with the 3rd Texas Cavalry (Co. E). There he continued his amateur artwork, completing several camp and battle scenes from the shores of the Mississippi and in the LaFourche District. From Desert to Bayou is a very worthwhile personal and visual record of the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi.

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