The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002

Book Reviews

glory, was repeatedly passed over for promotion, alledgedly because of his for-
eign birth. His frustration eventually induced Polignac to accept the only indi-
vidual command he could obtain, that of the raucous Second Texas Brigade.
Dubbed "General Polecat" by his unruly charges, most of whom could not cor-
rectly pronounce his name, Polignac steadily reorganized the Texans into a
competent fighting force. During the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill in
1864, the Second Texas Brigade anchored the Confederate repulse of Union
general Nathaniel Banks's Red River expedition, a combined land and sea offen-
sive designed to secure tighter control of Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. For his
role in the battles, Polignac was promoted to major general, the only foreign na-
tional to attain that rank during the Civil War.
Kinard has produced a lucid, engrossing account of Polignac's Civil War ca-
reer that often transcends traditional biography to underscore several lesser-
known but important elements of the Confederate experience during the Civil
War. For example, Kinard's examination of Polignac's quest for promotion pro-
vides a practical illustration of the highly contentious nature of the Confederate
military command structure, which seemed too often to favor political and social
connections over military experience and ability in making high-level appoint-
ments. In addition, Kinard has employed Polignac's tenure as commander of
the Second Texas Brigade to bring the experience of the Civil War in the west-
ern theater to the fore, an understudied and too often overlooked component
of the war, especially when considered from the Confederate vantage point.
Nonetheless, one minor quibble deserves mention. The comparison implied by
the book's title to Revolutionary War hero Marie Joseph de Motier, Marquis de
Lafayette, is somewhat deceptive. Although both were foreign nationals drawn
by the prospects of fame and fortune to conflicts in North America, Polignac
never enjoyed the favored status that Lafayette received from George Washing-
ton, nor was the Prince ever entrusted with military responsibility equivalent to
that given Lafayette. Kinard has shown that Polignac was a very competent com-
mander, but his relatively minor status in the Confederate war effort does not re-
alistically warrant comparison to Lafayette, a man enshrined as a hero both in
America and in France.
Kent State University Daniel P. Barr
Texas and New Mexico on the Eve of the Civil War: The Mansfield and Johnston Inspec-
tions, z859-186z. Edited and with an Introduction by Jerry Thompson.
(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001. Pp. 264. Maps, illus-
trations, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-82632-102. $29.95, cloth.)
Persons familiar with Jerry Thompson's many important publications will rec-
ognize that this work is a "natural" addition to his bibliography. The depth and
detail of Thompson's knowledge are evident not only in the extensive, authorita-
tive notes and bibliography, but also in the Introduction and Conclusion, which
he wrote. The University of New Mexico Press is to be thanked for this valuable
publication, not likely to be a hot seller, but definitely a very useful reference
work.
Little more than a decade after the United States acquired Texas and New

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/. Accessed December 26, 2014.