RUDOLPH L. BIESELE, Editor
Destruction and Reconstruction: Personal Experiences of the
Late War. By Richard Taylor. Edited by Richard B. Harwell.
New York (Longmans, Green and Co.), 1955. xxxii+38o.
Introduction, index. $7.50.
Destruction and Reconstruction, the memoirs of General Rich-
ard Taylor and therefore autobiographical in nature, was first
published in 1879. This vivid narrative, long out of print and
unobtainable, is now made available to all historians and to Con-
federate enthusiasts. These memoirs abundantly deserved re-
printing because of their contribution to the military history of
the Confederacy, and because of the intimate glimpses the author
gives of men in high places charged with the fate of the South.
This reprint is doubly valuable because of the introduction and
notes by the author.
These delightful memoirs relate the stories of General Dick
Taylor's part in the fighting in Virginia, particularly the Shenan-
doah Valley, the Seven Days around Richmond-Cold Harbor,
Frazier's Farm, Malvern Hill-operations in Louisiana, Vicks-
burg, and the Red River campaign, of definite Texan interest.
After describing the closing operations of the war General Taylor
tells the story of reconstruction, perhaps a more prosaic subject
and certainly told in a more prosaic fashion.
General Taylor was a delegate from Louisiana to the Charleston
Convention in the spring of i86o and participated in the sur-
render to General Canby in 1865 so that it may be said that, as
far as the Confederacy is concerned, "he sat by her cradle and
followed her hearse." In those four tragic years Taylor walked with
the great men of the Confederacy and it is his characterization
of these men, these "candid shots" or "close-ups," which gives his
book its greatest value. One may not always agree with the accuracy
of these views but one must admit that his characterizations are
unsurpassed for terseness, clearness, and acidity. In speaking of
reconstruction under Grant he said that "ignorance and inexperi-
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101162/. Accessed March 27, 2015.