The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Occasionally, however, errors creep into Seymour's memoirs. Black troops did
not fight at Myers's Farm during Spotsylvania on May 14, 1864 (p. 127); Charles
W. Field's division was not in Mill's Corps (p. 131); Lee did not send reinforce-
ments to Lynchburg on June 4, 1864 (p. 134); and Ramseur attacked the Feder-
al left, not the Federal front, on October 19, 1864 (p. 148). Moreover, Jones
introduces a few additional mistakes in his generally fine editorial elaborations.
Among them: Joseph W. Latimer led a battalion, not a battery, at Gettysburg (p.
74); John R. Cooke, not Philip Cook, fought at Second Bristoe Station (p. 88);
Jubal Early hit the Union left, not right, at Bethesda Church on May 30, 1864
(p. 132). In a few cases, too, Seymour's handwriting has apparently been mis-
read. "Starmardsville" should definitely be "Stanardsville" (p. 106), and "form-
ing" and "successfully" should presumably be "formerly" and "successively,"
respectively (pp. 113, 128).
Such minor points do not detract from the overall value of the captain's remi-
niscence. It is a significant source and a readable narrative. Jones deserves credit
for making it more widely available.
U.S. Army Military History Institute RICHARDJ. SOMMERS
Destroyer of the Iron Horse: General Joseph E. Johnston and Confederate Rail Transport,
1861-1865. By Jeffrey N. Lash (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press,
1991. Pp. viii+228. Preface, introduction, black-and-white photographs,
maps, illustrations, conclusion, notes, bibliography, index. $28.oo.)
In recent years some students of the Civil War, this reviewer among them,
have seriously questioned the traditional assumption that the South had better
generals than the North. The history of the war in the western theater particular-
ly has provided evidence that the alleged superiority of Confederate generals is
largely a myth. Among the high-ranking Rebel generals whose reputations have
suffered the most from this revisionism is the alleged master of Fabian tactics,
Joseph Eggleston Johnston, a Virginia native who saw service in both the eastern
and western theaters of the conflict.
Now Jeffrey N. Lash, in a book intriguingly and with considerable justification
entitled Destroyer of the Iron Horse, has leveled another blow at Johnston's totter-
ing reputation; contributed to a fuller understanding of Jefferson Davis's enmity
toward Johnston, an enmity that increasingly appears to have been based on sol-
id reasons rather than the whims of personal animosity and jealousy; and clearly
demonstrated that Johnston more than once "irretrievably harmed the Confed-
erate transportation system" (p. 186). After examining Johnston's use of the
Confederate railroads, Lash concludes that Johnston's alleged "ability as a strate-
gist and logistician" has been exaggerated (p. 182).
Developing Johnston's pre-Civil War career as a necessary background for his
analysis, Lash contends that while the wiry fifty-four-year-old was still "a man of
impressive military bearing" (p. 4), he had probably passed his prime, and was
less capable than his training, experience, and appearance suggested. Lash says

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/. Accessed September 2, 2014.