Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Letters of General Richard S. Ewell: Stonewall's Successor

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Letters of General Richard S. Ewell: Stonewall's Successor

Article excerpt

The Letters of General Richard S. Ewell: Stonewall's Successor. Edited by Donald C. Pfanz. Voices of the Civil War. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2012. Pp. [xxxviii], 442. $44.95, ISBN 978-1-57233-873-9.)

In the Confederate war effort, few soldiers cut such a bizarre figure as General Richard S. Ewell. His bulging eyes, large bald head, profane nature, hypochondria, and unusual habits made him a point of curiosity. Almost fifteen years after the publication of his biography of the flawed commander (.Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier's Life [Chapel Hill, 1998]), Donald C. Pfanz has produced a comprehensive collection of Ewell's writings. This excellent documentary collection contains 173 letters, four battle narratives, seven official letters, and two wartime memoranda. Pfanz's transcriptions adhere closely to the original manuscripts, with only minor editorial emendations, allowing the reader to experience the flavorful language of this unusual man.

Ewell's pre-Civil War letters reveal compelling accounts of his education at West Point, his U.S.-Mexican War experiences, and his search for a wife. While his idiosyncrasies are often on display, so is his capacity for conveying his deepest emotions. In 1847, after his brother was killed at the battle of Cerro Gordo, Ewell informed his mother that he had built a coffin "to give Tom a better & more decent resting place" (p. 66). While stationed in the peacetime army at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri, he lamented how quickly the neighborhood girls were married, "however ugly they may be" (p. 47). His desire for marriage consumed him and was not satisfied until he married his cousin Lizinka Campbell Brown in 1863.

Ewell's Civil War command and his controversial private life shape his wartime letters. Few questioned his bravery as a soldier, especially after a wound he suffered in 1862 resulted in the amputation of his left leg. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.