Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Book News: John P. Slough

As I've mentioned many times before, my interest in Civil War biography mainly lies in those books addressing the careers of comparatively obscure figures who played key roles in secondary fronts or lesser-known events. At this stage of the game, the literature coverage of the 1862 New Mexico Campaign is rather impressive in depth and scope, but Richard L. Miller's upcoming John P. Slough: The Forgotten Civil War General, which will be published by University of New Mexico Press next spring, still fits the bill. 

Miller characterizes Slough as having "lived a life of relentless pursuit for success that entangled him in the turbulent events of mid-nineteenth-century America. As a politician, Slough fought abolitionists in the Ohio legislature and during Kansas Territory's fourth and final constitutional convention. He organized the 1st Colorado Volunteer Infantry after the Civil War broke out, eventually leading his men against Confederate forces at the pivotal engagement at Glorieta Pass." He resigned to avoid the possibility of being court-martialed for exceeding orders during the campaign, but quickly reemerged at the other end of the country in Virginia, where he commanded troops in the field and was appointed to administrative posts. "After the war, as chief justice of the New Mexico Territorial Supreme Court, he struggled to reform corrupt courts amid the territory's corrosive Reconstruction politics.

His difficult personality combined with the rough and tumble nature of frontier politics contributed to Slough losing his life at the age of 38. "Slough was known to possess a volcanic temper and an easily wounded pride. These traits not only undermined a promising career but ultimately led to his death at the hands of an aggrieved political enemy (William Rynerson) who gunned him down in a Santa Fe saloon." This book is definitely on my radar for 2021.

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