Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

A Texas Cavalry Officer's Civil War: The Diary and Letters of James C. Bates

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

A Texas Cavalry Officer's Civil War: The Diary and Letters of James C. Bates

Article excerpt

A Texas Cavalry Officer's Civil War: The Diary and Letters of James C. Bates. Edited by Richard Lowe. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, c. 1999. Pp. xxvi, 366. $34.95, ISBN 0-8071-2372-2.)

James C. Bates was born in Tennessee, attended college, and made Paris, Texas, his home before the Civil War. He joined the Ninth Texas Cavalry in 1861, motivated by a desire to defend his homeland and to preserve the status quo of southern society. Although he was not a member of the slave-owning class, Bates firmly believed that blacks were an inferior race and that slavery was the best way to deal with them. Editor Lowe mixes the numerous letters Bates wrote with his diary entries to cover essentially all phases of Bates's war career, in which he saw action in a number of engagements, both obscure and famous. Some letters written by his mother are also included here. They provide a brief glimpse into the Texas home front during the Civil War.

The diary and letters reveal an observant, intelligent, and articulate soldier. His description of the early campaigning in Indian Territory is quite valuable because historians have given little attention to the operations there. Bates rose to company command in 1862 and was temporarily transferred to Stirman's Arkansas Sharpshooters for the Corinth campaign. He also participated in the battle of Pea Ridge, the Holly Springs raid, operations around Jackson, Mississippi, and the engagement at Thompson's Station. …

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