Destruction and Reconstruction: Personal Experiences of the Civil War
By- Lt. General Richard Taylor, CSA
Published by-De Capo Press
Pages- 274, Introduction, text, and index
When looking at Book Reviews, I've always noticed a lack of memoirs by CW veterans, my favorite type of CW book. While I personally prefer memoirs by enlisted men above all else, I figure this much remembered and controversial book deserves attention, especially since I just re-read it for the first time in a LONG time.
To many Richard Taylor is forgotten, or just remembered for his very short service in Virginia under Jackson. Others either living west of the Mississippi or actually studying this ignored region remember him well for his leadership in the Red River Campaign of 1864, and or the epic seemingly mutual hatred between him Edmund Kirby Smith and their feud.
In this book Taylor begins with retelling the beginning of the war, and how he came to be Colonel of the 9th Louisiana Infantry, and his quick rise through the ranks to Brigadier General over others by his friend and former brother-in-law Jefferson Davis, and how he fought the elevation. He takes us back to his first meeting with the famous Stonewall Jackson, his meeting and service besides General Ewell and countless other greats in Northern Virginia. When taking us back he also gives short biographies of everyone, and makes his feelings about them plain....
After that Taylor tells of his being sent home to Louisiana to recuperate, (he suffered rheumatoid arthritis all his life) and take command of the Louisiana District. He gives us a personal account of his orders to save Vicksburg, and how he felt it folly, and that Pemberton and Joe Johnston did it to themselves. Afterwards we see his probably least known campaign fighting the Union in South Louisiana, then move on to his most well known, the Red River Campaign and beyond to the end of the war seeing General Nathan Bedford Forrest along the way after they met, and developed a seemingly mutual admiration and respect for one another, with him praising or d---ing comrades and enemies alike along the way.
From there, we get to what I personally feel General Beauregard was referring to when he said the book was the "Romance of Destruction and Reconstruction" and we see Taylor as he goes through Reconstruction and get good pictures of Grant, Andrew Johnston, and the Radical Republicans.
All and all, I think this an important book for any student of the Civil War to read. Throughout he adds quotations from antiquity and metaphors galore, but it is an easy book to read, at least until Reconstruction. There he goes so far overboard with the ancient and poetic references, so much I have a hard time following it.
But don't take my word for it, read it yourself if you haven't already, then read it again!
"Rusk County Avengers" on Civil War Talk