The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992 Page: 549

Book Reviews

Having staked out his thesis by conducting the reader through a detailed
swing around the Southern circle, Freehling returns to it again and again as he
moves into familiar territory: the Missouri Compromise, Vesey's plot, the Vir-
ginia debates on emancipation, nullification, the gag rule, and the annexation
of Texas. But scholars will find that the author's thesis gives this well-trod
ground a new twist. Zachary Taylor's decision to allow the states instead of Con-
gress to decide about slavery, for example, is attributed not to the blunderings
of a foolish novice but to typical Whiggish nationalism.
Freehling does concede-despite his desire to chart a middle path between
Marxist scholars and those who depict the antebellum South as a middle-class
democracy-that internal divisions aside, the master class did maintain its he-
gemony over white yeomen and black property. Yet some may suspect that in
his endeavor to underscore internal weaknesses Freehling has underestimated
internal unity. His assertion that Southern votes on the Tallmadge amendment
demonstrated that "too many border neutrals would side with the North" (p.
149) contradicts his earlier admission that but two men broke with their South-
ern brethren. The founder of the American Colonization Society, who was lit-
erally driven out of his native Virginia by livid ideologues, would be surprised
to hear that South Carolina fire-eaters alone doomed the project to failure.
These are minor quibbles. Freehling is right to remind us that the South was
a "chaotic kaleidoscope" (p. vii) of regions, religions, and races. Rich in detail,
soundly based both in new and old monographs as well as archival sources, The
Road to Disunion is an exceptionally well-written saga that will delight the public
and send the specialist scurrying to revise old lectures.
As It Was: Remiznscences of a Soldzer of the Thzrd Texas Cavalry and the Nineteenth
Louisiana Infantry. By Douglas John Cater. (Austin: State House Press,
1990. Pp. xxv+241. Acknowledgments, preface, introduction, index.
Doug Cater was an engaging young man who combined the rugged outdoor
skills acquired while growing up on a Louisiana cotton plantation with a genteel
education unusual for his time and place. He was a twenty-year-old music
teacher in Henderson, Texas, when the Civil War began, and his sensitive and
self-deprecatory account of his adventures in the Confederate army, composed
late in life, offers a worthy addition to the corpus of soldiers' memoirs. It also
provides a case study in the process by which idealistic zeal devolved through
disillusionment to a reconciling myth, as described by Gerald F. Linderman in
his Embattled Courage: The Experzence of Combat in the American Civil War (New
York: Free Press, 1987).
Cater enlisted as a bugler in the Third Texas Cavalry in June 1861, saw ac-
tion at Wilson's Creek and Pea Ridge, and was felled by disease at Corinth.
Transferring to the Nineteenth Louisiana Infantry in 1862, he participated in
the defense of Vicksburg, where his younger brother died in the trenches. At
Chickamauga, he buried his elder brother, killed in one of Bragg's suicidal


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992, periodical, 1992; Austin, Texas. ( accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.