The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992 Page: 550
Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly
charges. Cater fought in the defense of Atlanta and, shoeless, marched with
Hood toward disaster in Tennessee.
Almost one-third of this memoir is devoted to Cater's boyhood. Another
third deals with the first year of the war, while the youthful enthusiasm that
impelled him to volunteer was still fresh and strong. His account of arduous
but exciting cavalry service with the Third Texas is replete with vivid and de-
tailed description and expressions of zeal for the Confederate cause.
Cater confines his three years as an infantry private to the final third of the
book. Much is left unsaid; few details are offered. The tone is one of resigna-
tion to the tedium of duty as bandsman, flunky with the baggage train, and
medical orderly. There are no heroics here, but rather unsparing criticism of
the incompetence of his commanders, with the single exception of Joe John-
ston, "by far the best general in the Confederate army" (p. 183).
Cater came out of the war chastened and subdued, convinced that "quiet
submission was the only thing that could be done" (p. 213). But by the time he
sat down to compose his reminiscences, he had embraced the received myth
that the Southern cause was a just and noble one; that Reconstruction and its
attendant horrors were the nefarious work of carpetbaggers and scalawags.
T. Michael Parrish has provided an excellent introduction to this work. He
and the State House Press deserve our appreciation for making Cater's memoir
available to the growing legions of readers intrigued by the life of the common
soldier during the Civil War.
Oklahoma State University DOUGLAS HALE
Westward the Texans: The Czvil War Journal oJ Private William Randolph Howell. By
Jerry D. Thompson. (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 199go. Pp. 184. Intro-
duction, maps, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index, black-and-white
In the current Civil War mania there is a mad rush to get everything into
print that was left lying around when the last mania, sparked by the centennial,
passed. In some cases, such as Gen. Porter Alexander's private memoir, Fight-
ing for the Confederacy, or Mother, May You Never See the Sights I Have Seen, this is
all good and proper. Some things are being published, however, which fill no
need and add little to our knowledge or understanding. The Czvil War journal of
Private William Randolph Howell falls into that latter category. Howell was in
Company C of the Fifth Regiment of Sibley's Brigade in the ill-fated invasion of
New Mexico in 1862. He was described in the words of another diarist on that
same expedition as "a young unmarried man of the greatest moral worth."
Little else is known today of Private Howell apart from a few personal letters
(also included in the book) and his journal, now brought into print by Jerry D.
Thompson of Laredo State University. At the beginning of the war the Howell
family lived in Grimes County, Texas, and were ardent secessionists. Young
William joined Sibley's command in San Antonio where it was mustering at the
end of August 1861. After the remnants of the Confederate expedition re-
turned in the spring of 1862 Howell was discharged due to chronic hepatitis
contracted on the expedition.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992, periodical, 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/m1/626/ocr/: accessed December 11, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.