Campaigning with Parsons' Texas Cavalry Brigade, C.S.A., the War Journals and Letters of the Four Orr Brothers, 12th Texas Cavalry Regimentby John Q. Anderson

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  • Campaigning with Parsons' Texas Cavalry Brigade, C.S.A., the War Journals and Letters ofthe Four Orr Brothers, 12th Texas Cavalry Regiment by John Q. AndersonReview by: Walter L. BrownThe Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Spring, 1968), pp. 74-76Published by: Arkansas Historical AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40018330 .Accessed: 15/06/2014 16:29

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  • 74 ARKANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

    Thomas Nuttall to his rightful place as a truly significant figure in the scientific life of the early United States and of the world. "No other botanist collected," she tells us, "as many new kinds of plants within what is now the United States; no other naturalist saw so much of its primeval con- dition." He wrote the first ornithology of North America priced for general purchase, and he made equally important contributions to the fields of zoology, geology, mineralogy, ecology, and horticulture. His searches led him into every part of the settled section of the country, into the wild Indian country of the wide Missouri with the Astorians, into the Oregon Country with Nathaniel Wyeth's brigade, to the Hawaiian Islands, back to California, and around Cape Horn with the crew of the Alert, whose voyage Richard Henry Dana made into the classic Two Years before the Mast

    The Arkansas reader will be disappointed if he expects a lengthy treatment of Nuttalls's travels in Arkansas Terri- tory in 1818-1820. But he will be richly rewarded if he wants to study the complete life of this fascinating, adventur- ous scientist. Two maps depict his travels in the United States, and there is a good index.

    University of Arkansas Walter L. Brown

    Campaigning with Parsons' Texas Cavalry Brigade, C.S.A., the War Journals and Letters of the Four Orr Brothers, 12th Texas Cavalry Regiment. Edited by John Q. Anderson. (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1967. Pp. xv, 173. Illustrations. Index. $6.00.) This book comprises the Civil War record of the four

    Orr brothers- Henry, Robert, James, and Lafayette, sons of a yeoman farmer who lived near Red Oak Creek, Ellis County, Texas. Henry, Robert, and James, aged twenty- four, twenty-two, and twenty respectively, enlisted in the late summer of 1861 in the Ellis County Rangers, a com- pany of horse soldiers. Assigned to Colonel William H. Par-

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  • BOOK REVIEWS 75

    sons' Texas Cavalry Brigade, Henry and Robert served throughout the war with this company and brigade. James and Lafayette, who enlisted in 1862 when he was eighteen, were separated from their brothers, ended up in General Thomas J. Churchill's Brigade, were captured at Arkansas Post, were paroled and later fought in Tennessee and Georgia. Meanwhile, Henry and Robert spent the war in Arkansas and Louisiana. Remarkably, all four of the broth- ers survived the war and returned to Texas.

    The Book is built around a journal that Henry kept for nine months in 1861-1862 and around copious letters he and his brothers wrote home and to each other during the war years. Henry's and Robert's letters are especially important because of the light they throw on life in Arkan- sas, Louisiana, and Texas in 1862-1865.

    Their company formed part of the Twelfth Texas Cavalry Regiment, commanded by Parsons, which was mustered into Confederate service on October 28, 1861, at Camp Hebert, two miles below Hempstead, Texas, western terminus of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. Re- maining in that vicinity until March, the Orr brothers, after a brief visit at home enroute, marched with their regiment (later a part of Parsons' Brigade) via Clarksville, Texas, Washington and Arkadelphia, Arkansas, to Pine Bluff, whence they took a steamboat to Memphis. May 16, 1862, found Henry and Robert on another steamboat en- route to Little Rock, which was being threatened by a Federal army under General Samuel R. Curtis. (It was at Little Rock on May 29 that Henry gave up keeping his journal and mailed it home to his sister.)

    From late May 1862 until late June 1863 Henry, who wrote nearly all of the letters, remained on duty along the White River below Batesville and along the Arkansas River below Pine Bluff, marching to Louisiana late in June. From July 1863 until the end of the war he remained with his regiment in Louisiana and Texas in General Edmund Kirby Smith's army. On May 24, 1865, he reached home to re- main.

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  • 76 ARKANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

    Editor Anderson has erred in dating the letter on pages 101-104 as Little Rock, May 26, 1863. Internal evidence shows that it should be dated May 26, 1862, while the frag- ment attached to it is correctly dated May 26, 1863. Ex- cept for this rather jarring misplacement of an important document, Anderson's chronological organization, his intro- duction, and his explanatory notes are satisfactory. He has, however, made little effort to locate place names, and the substitution of a good map in place of the four pictures would have made the book more useful. His index is of minimal value.

    University of Arkansas Walter L. Brown

    Van Dorn, The Life and Times of a Confederate General. By Robert G. Hartje. (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1967. Pp. xiii, 359. Illustrations and maps. Biblio- graphy. Index. $8.95.) This is a rarity among books- an honest appraisal of

    a Confederate general, Earl Van Dorn of Mississippl. A West Pointer, Van Dorn had a distinguished record

    in the Mexican War and as an Indian fighter in Texas, primarily because his superiors had given little attention to the man's fatal weaknesses. He was overwhelmingly ambitious for personal advancement and glory. He was notoriously unwilling to chart his campaign tactics, and he almost universally based his plans on poor reconnaissance. And he was a poor judge of men, especially as to how to use the brave but poorly trained troops whom he needlessly slaughtered at Pea Ridge and Corinth.

    Van Dorn's early combat experience in the Mexican War and with Indians gave evidence that he was brave and that he could lead small units of cavalry quite well. After he demonstrated his incapacity for commanding armies at Pea Ridge and at Corinth, Van Dorn redeemed himself somewhat by leading a smaller cavalry force in a successful attack on Grant's supply line at Holly Springs late in 1862.

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    Article Contentsp. 74p. 75p. 76

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Spring, 1968), pp. 1-80Front MatterBreaking the Color Barrier at the University of Arkansas [pp. 3-21]The J.L.C. and E.R.R. and the Opening of the "Sunk Lands" of Northeast Arkansas [pp. 22-39]Fort Smith as the Agency for the Western Choctaws [pp. 40-58]Half a Century of School Consolidation in Arkansas [pp. 59-67]News, Notes and Comments [pp. 68-70]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 71-73]Review: untitled [pp. 73-74]Review: untitled [pp. 74-76]Review: untitled [pp. 76-77]Review: untitled [pp. 77-78]Review: untitled [pp. 78-80]

    Back Matter

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