Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Booknotes: Farragut's Captain

New Arrival:
Farragut's Captain: Percival Drayton, 1861-1865 by Peter Barratt (Author/Lulu, 2018).

His life bookended by major American wars, Charleston native Percival Drayton (1812-1865) was a prominent member of the Union Navy's second tier of officers, and Peter Barratt's Farragut's Captain: Percival Drayton, 1861-1865 is a slim biography that centers on the Civil War years. Drayton "played a central role in four of the key naval engagements of the American Civil War, and as a personal friend and trusted subordinate of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut and Rear Admiral Samuel Francis du Pont, Drayton made a vital contribution to the ultimate success of the Union Navy in the struggle to maintain the Union. As the son of a noted Jacksonian Unionist obligated to leave South Carolina for Philadelphia many years before the war, Drayton was the very embodiment of the romantic war between brothers" [Confederate Brig. Gen. Thomas Drayton was his older brother].

"Captain Drayton was a highly literate and intelligent observer of the world around him and the people in it. And throughout the war, he maintained a constant flow of letters to naval colleagues and friends. His letters provide a captivating insight into his service and into the personalities of many Civil War-era figures, and so his letters-and his biography-stand as a primary record of the war at sea and of the collapse of the slave system on the South Carolina coast."

Drayton's Civil War letters have been published before but my cursory search for prior book-length biographies came up empty. Barratt's bibliography doesn't reveal any either.

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