The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 545

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Book Reviews

Gutierrez, who wanted to establish a solid national political party over
Colorado's LRUP agenda of creating an idealized nation of Aztlin, left the
Albuquerque meeting and returned to Texas.
At times, the author portrays a melodramatic panorama of the CFJ and its
activities, and has a tendency to present a hagiographic study of Rodolfo "Corky"
Gonziles. The flow of the story is interrupted by too many unnecessary long
quotes that do not add meaning to the text. In an effort to cover all the blow-by-
blow activities of the CFJ, Vigil repeats too many lengthy stories of the same
topic, i.e. school walk-outs and police brutality are discussed in several chapters.
Nonetheless, this book is informative insofar as it uncovers the FBI's covert activ-
ities against a Chicano militant group and its members, an established govern-
ment practice that was very much a part of the turbulent sixties.
San Antonio J. GILBERTO QUEZADA
The Tarnished Cavalier: Major General Earl Van Dorn, C.S.A. By Arthur B. Carter.
(Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1999. Pp xii+247. Preface,
acknowledgements, epilogue, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 1-57233-
047-3. $42.00, cloth.)
Retired U.S. Army officer Arthur B. Carter has written this new biography of
Van Dorn for all the right reasons. First, the last biography, Robert G. Hartje's
Van Dorn, The Life and Times of a Confederate General, (Nashville: Vanderbilt
University Press, 1967) is out of date and lacked an in-depth analysis into Van
Dorn's character. More importantly, Carter has uncovered new and important
sources that will change the way Van Dorn will be interpreted.
Few Confederate officers entered the conflict in 1861 with more promising
prospects than Van Dorn. Although he was graduated fifty-second out of the
fifty-four in his class of 1842 at the United States Military Academy, he had
served with distinction in Mexico, being wounded and receiving two brevets.
While serving on the Texas frontier he was wounded several times in alterca-
tions with the Comanches. By the time of the Civil War the dashing blue-eyed
blond-haired cavalryman saw unlimited opportunities for himself. But Van
Dorn seemed far too interested in advancing his own career than supporting
the cause, noting as the war began, "I may yet be able to catch a spark of light-
ening and shine through all the time to become a burning name" (p. 23).
Van Dorn's blind ambition served him well in the early months of the war in
helping him clear Texas of Federal forces and in capturing the Union steam-
er Star of the West. Later it would fail him with his disastrous Pea Ridge cam-
paign. In a good analysis of the battle Carter notes that Van Dorn had failed
to give even basic logistical support to his troops, assuming that they would be
able to live off the land. Van Dorn then issued overcomplicated orders to his
men and failed to coordinate his actions with his commanders and staff. Van
Dorn repeated his dismal performance in leading troops at Corinth,
Mississippi. Later the South did find Van Dorn useful as a cavalry comman-
der. He successfully led a raid on Grant's line of communications at Holly

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/589/ocr/: accessed December 4, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.