Monday, June 18, 2018

High Private

University of Tennessee Press has three Trans-Mississippi titles currently under development. The third Confederate generals essay anthology and 1st Oregon Cavalry memoirs and correspondence have already been mentioned here before, but the new Fall/Winter catalog also contains an announcement for High Private: The Trans-Mississippi Correspondence of Humorist R. R. Gilbert, 1862-1865 (October 2018), edited by journalism professor Mary M. Cronin.

During the war, Rensselaer Reed Gilbert wrote hundreds of news articles, editorials, and humor pieces for the Tri-weekly Telegraph of Houston, Texas under the moniker "High Private." Cronin's biographical work and her editing of this material bring to light the life and career of a prolific but lesser-known Civil War journalist. The book also claims to offer new insights into the humorist form of Civil War journalism, particularly when composed while the writer was still in uniform.

After he left the army, the civilian journalist Gilbert was able to operate out of army headquarters under a series of commanders. Presumably, readers will benefit from the insights gained by such close proximity to the theater's leading generals. The book seeks to elevate Gilbert's status as a major "critical voice for the region," one that "revealed uncomfortable truths" and through humor provided "emotional release" for the troubled home populations of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Sounds very interesting.

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