The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Cox's new book doesn't pretend to supplant Professor Webb's classic,
although I hope he will ultimately undertake that challenge. Tales presents new
accounts of Ranger action and new insights into the highly visible and ever con-
troversial "gentlemen in white hats."
Cox's final entry is an appendix offering his take on ten major Ranger mem-
oirs written before 1930. Aware that Ranger fans always want more, he provides
them a useful guide to first-hand Ranger recollections.
There is a lot to like about Texas Ranger Tales. The book is one of those scarce
pleasures that one will fearlessly urge on friends, even discriminating ones.
But I have a complaint. Tales-a book you'll try to keep forever-comes only
in paperback.
The Dallas Morning News KENT BIFFLE
Prince John Magruder: His Life and Campaigns. By Paul D. Casdorph. (Somerset:
John Wiley Sons Inc., 1996. Pp. xiii+386. Preface, illustrations, notes, bibli-
ography, index. ISBN 1-55622-537-7. $30.00, cloth.)
If the life of John Bankhead Magruder had been fiction, it might have been
crafted by someone like George MacDonald Fraser. Like Fraser's protagonist,
Flashman, Magruder was, throughout his life, on the periphery of significant
historical events and in the company of leading historical figures of his day.
He attended the University of Virginia when Thomas Jefferson was still a pres-
ence amid the corridors of his own design. He was later at West Point, where
his schoolmates included Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Joseph Johnston,
and others who would figure prominently in the Civil War. He was at the
opening of the Mexican War along the Resaca de la Palma (not "Parma" as
noted on pp. 61-62), and his understanding and appreciation'of new military
tactics, especially the so-called "flying artillery," eventually won him honor in
that conflict.
When the Civil War broke out, Magruder was charged with defenses along
the Virginia peninsula, the scene of intense early fighting. Later, when he was
no longer in favor with Confederate leadership, transferred to the Trans-
Mississippi theater as the Texas commander and led the successful recapture of
Galveston in 1863. Present when E. Kirby Smith surrendered there two years
later, he then traveled to Mexico in service to Maximilian, but eventually
returned to the United States.
Yet, through all the celebrity, admiration, and success, and behind the
facade of aplomb, fancy uniforms, and high style living, all of which earned
him the sobriquet, Prince John, there was doubt, insecurity, and even self-
destruction, given his penchant for excesses of alcohol. He was, in effect, his
own worst enemy.
John Bankhead Magruder was, in most respects, larger than life, and any
attempt to capture his many facets in a brief biography would fall short in
some regard. Paul Casdorph has succeeded, however, in providing a much-
needed foundational overview of Magruder's complexities within a context of

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed November 28, 2014.