The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 708
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
This biography is exhaustively researched. What makes it an exceptional de-
light rather than simply a solidly researched book is its scope and writing. Adams
is simply a wonderful writer. His felicitous phrasing is found on every page. His
judgments are fair, balanced, and altogether nuanced. This reviewer could rec-
ommend the volume on its literary qualities alone, but, fortunately, because of the
enormous scholarship, he does not have to. It is a privilege to review a book that
so plainly and seemingly so effortlessly combines solid research, perfect balance,
and excellent writing.
Southwest Texas State University James W. Pohl
Gideon Lincecum's Sword: Civil War Letters from the Texas Home Front. Edited by Jerry
Bryan Lincecum, Edward Hake Phillips, and Peggy A. Redshaw. (Denton:
University of North Texas Press, 2001. Pp. x+378. Acknowledgments, intro-
duction, appendix, selected references, index. ISBN 1-57441-125-X. $39.95,
Reading Gideon Lincecum's Sword is likely to provoke outrage or delight, pos-
sibly both. The self-taught doctor of "botanical medicine" moved to Washington
County, Texas, from Mississippi in 1848 with his family of ten. His massive collec-
tion of letters chronicle the Texas home front during the Civil War, but even
more so, provide an absolutely uninhibited view inside the mind of a slave-hold-
ing, fully committed supporter of the Confederate cause.
Lincecum viewed blacks as inferior beings, but he reserved his venom for '"Yan-
kees." Even readers who are appalled by Lincecum's extreme views may find
themselves admiring the old man's fierce spirit. Seventy-one years old as the war
was flaming out in 1864, he remained no less fierce in his devotion to the South-
Let the whole South die in preference to submission ... I do hope that the entire people,
both male and female, feel as I do upon this subject. That they have, like me, all made be-
fore their gods, solemn vows, that so long as life lasts, they will never be at peace with the ac-
cursed yankee people; that they will teach their own and all other children with whom they
may come into contact, to bear eternal enmity to and also to hate and kill Yankees through-
out the period of their existence (pp. 264-265).
In a time when many fret over "political correctness," Lincecum's passionate
prose often seems invigorating.
If Lincecum had simply been a seething misanthrope, his letters would not be
so interesting. But the letters reveal a man bursting with ideas and wide-ranging
opinions, a man who, through his wide correspondence, clearly enjoyed other
people. A dedicated student of nature, he maintained a regular correspondence
with many scientists, including Charles Darwin. Darwin thought enough of Lince-
cum's observation on Texas flora and fauna that he published two of them, but
Darwin wrote to a colleague: "The whole letters are so odd that they are almost
worth your reading-such spelling-such grammar!" Still, that a person with on-
Here’s what’s next.
Show all pages in this issue.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/764/ocr/: accessed July 23, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.