The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999 Page: 108
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108 Southwestern Historical Quarterly July
There are some errors such as the "Rio Colorado" (p. 18), south of Corpus
Christi, instead of the Arroyo Colorado; the "Spanish army at San Luis Potosi" (p.
24), opposing Gen. Winfield Scott; and "San Antonio some 420 miles away ...
from Matagorda Bay" (p. 53). These are niggling aberrations in what is otherwise
a remarkable contribution to U.S. military history.
Shavetails and Bell Sharps (you have to read the book to learn the meaning of
these terms) is a clearly written, exhaustively researched, and engaging book.
Fort Clark, Texas Ben E. Pingenot
Brothers in Gray: The Civil War Letters of the Pierson Family. Edited by Thomas W.
Cutrer and T. Michael Parrish. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 1997. Pp. xiii+269. Preface, introduction, illustrations, index. ISBN o-
8071-2134-7. $34.95, cloth).
Many are the volumes of Civil War soldier letters. However, none to my knowl-
edge, accomplishes what this volume does within a single cover: the preservation
and presentation of the correspondence of three of four simultaneously serving
brothers, whose combined service spanned the entire history of the war. Brothers
in Gray is this unique collection.
The brothers, residents of Winn Parish in Louisiana, rendered outstanding
service in Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Their letters, from far-flung theaters to family members and friends at home,
touch on most of the campaigns and engagements of the war, both east and west
of the Mississippi River.
The Pierson brothers whose letters are here presented were David, Reuben, and
James, all "well-educated for their time and place" (preface). Their correspon-
dence recounts the drudgery, boredom, wounds, capture, and prisoner exchange
which marked their service, while at the same time bolstering the home folk with
requisite rhetorical bombast. Writing from Virginia in early 1862, for example,
Reuben declared that he would "sooner receive six feet of Confederate soil as my
last inheritance than yield one single iota of our rights" (p. 72).
Two distinguished authorities on the Civil War, Thomas W. Cutrer and T.
Michael Parrish, have researched the brothers, their circumstances, and their
associates with exhaustive scholarship. They will be recognized respectively, of
course, for their recent works on Ben McCulloch and Richard Taylor.
Texas readers will find particular interest in the letters of David Pierson, the
first of the brothers to offer his services to a fledgling country. A Unionist by
instinct and legal training, he nevertheless was mustered into Confederate ser-
vice as captain of Company C, Third Louisiana Infantry, on May 17, 1861, at
New Orleans. Surviving slightly more than four years of warfare, almost exactly
the life span of the C.S.A., during which he "miraculously" recovered from a
head wound and was captured and exchanged, he was discharged as regimental
commander of the Third Louisiana on May 20o, 1865, at Shreveport.
In the interim, David Pierson and his company had fought at Wilson's Creek
and Pea Ridge in Arkansas, at Farmington and Iuka in Mississippi, and at the
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999, periodical, 1999; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/m1/133/?rotate=90: accessed December 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.