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Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: With Porter in North Missouri

With Porter In North Missouri: A Chapter In The History Of The War Between The StatesWith Porter In North Missouri: A Chapter In The History Of The War Between The States by Joseph A. Mudd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This memoir by a Confederate veteran is a flawed yet still valuable look at an interesting part of the Civil War in Missouri.

The author rode with Colonel Porter in 1862 as they fought their way across Union-held northeast Missouri, gathering recruits, drawing bluecoats away from more important theaters, and generally causing havoc. There are few published memoirs from either side for this region so Mudd's book is intrinsically valuable.

Where it falls down, however, is its starry-eyed view of Porter. In Mudd's eyes the man could do no wrong. In fact, Porter made several basic tactical blunders, such as getting into a series of set-piece battles with larger and better-armed Union forces. It seems Porter thought of himself more as a general leading an army rather than a cavalry raider doing hit-and-run strikes. This led to his downfall and eventual death.

Further undermining the credibility of this volume are the lengthy quotes attributed to Porter, some running more than a page. Since this book was published in 1909, it's obvious that these conversations are made up. The content, however, generally corresponds with what we know of Porter's personality and tactics, thus only a few grains of salt are needed to get through these passages.

For serious students of the Civil War, this book is a worthwhile historic curio. Those with only a passing interest in the Civil War in Missouri or Confederate cavalry raiders would do best to look elsewhere.

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  1. I love the hit and strike history abut the Civil War. If I wer alive and fightint during that time, that's what I would want to do.

  2. In this book, is it true what Hemingway tells us - that there is a great deal of truth to be found in fiction?

    1. Mudd fictionalizes history. The basic facts and interpretations are correct, he's just being biased and gilding the lily a bit.

  3. Sounds like an interesting perspective. You won't find reality, but you'll definitely find perspective in it. From what I just read in None Died in Vain, there was a lot of that going on in the Civil War. Practically the only thing that got anyone through it (and many out out it).


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