The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001

Book Reviews

and disorder. Fourth, Scott points out the changing nature of the work of the
Texas Rangers in the 18oos: from battling Amerindians and Mexican nationals as
citizen soldiers to chasing outlaws and desperadoes as peace officers. In doing so,
the author shows the animosity between Anglos and Hispanics in southern Texas,
sees McNelly as a determined, focused individual, and covers the contours of the
operation of McNelly's ranging company, from the Sutton-Taylor feud to their
tactics of executing prisoners and invading Mexico. In all of this, Scott views
McNelly as "one of the toughest, smartest, cleverest, and bravest men who ever
lived" (p. viii). Perhaps. Perhaps such operations by the Ranger captain and his
"Little McNellys" were more complex and questionable than the author believes.
Scott wrote this biography with the passion of a partisan. His hero-worship
approach, however, fails to give a comprehensive and balanced account of
McNelly and his era. To this reviewer, Leander H. McNelly, controversial border
captain, deserves better.
Jamestown Community College Harold J. Weiss Jr.
A Texas Cavalry Officer's Civil War: The Diary and Letters of fames C. Bates. Edited by
Richard Lowe. (Louisiana State University Press, 1999. Pp. xvii+366.
Preface, introduction, epilogue, appendices, bibliography, index. ISBN o-
807-12372-2. $34.95, cloth.)
James C. Bates was twenty-four in the fall of 1861 when he enlisted with the
Ninth Texas cavalry from his home in Paris, Texas. Over the ensuing three years
he would see extensive action in the Indian Territory and five states, until, in
May 1864, a Yankee minie ball smashed his jaw and mouth during a skirmish in
northern Georgia. He survived this hideous wound, and after the war became a
physician, until the lingering effects of wartime bouts with dysentery killed him
in 1891. A prolific writer, Bates maintained a diary and corresponded frequently
with family and friends. Richard Lowe has collected and edited these materials
to produce an entertaining and informative book.
Bates was "the very best sort of soldier for the Confederacy and the worst sort
of enemy for the Union during the Civil War," Lowe wrote (p. 337). A popular,
resourceful, and courageous young man in the prime of his life, his letters run
the gamut of wartime experiences. There are moments of humor-an early
attempt at cooking, for example, produced biscuits of all shapes and sizes, "big,
little, and littler" which, Bates cheerfully concluded, aptly reflected the large and
small appetites of his men-moments of boredom, and moments of gruesome
battlefield violence. Bates and his fellow Texans also enjoyed a well-deserved rep-
utation for being rather unruly soldiers who frowned on regular discipline. Bates
himself was a rather touchy sort who could react with vehement displeasure at
real or perceived slights. This makes for entertaining reading.
The Bates correspondence includes relatively unusual passages that enhance
their value. His letters from various medical facilities in Georgia and Alabama
following his facial wound offer frank and at times graphic descriptions of hospital

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed September 23, 2014.