A review of More Generals in Gray by Bruce S. Allardice

Reviewed by Molly Martin

More Generals in Gray
by Bruce S. Allardice
Louisiana State University Press
Paperback: 301 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0807131480

More Generals in Gray by Bruce S. Allardice is A Companion Volume, to Ezra J. Warner’s 1950 editon Generals in Gray. As such this publication offers the consequences of investigation conducted by Bruce S. Allardice who presents an assemblage of military officers relatively generally disregarded.

These are the southern Confederacy’s supplementary generals; men who accomplished their rank not through the customary process of promotion by President Jefferson Davis with endorsement of the Confederate Congress, but frequently were elevated through other process at the time, and, as a result have been all but overlooked.

The 137 men registered in the biographical section originate with Charles W Adams, born in Massachusetts raised in Indiana and moved to Helena, Arkansas in 1838 where he came to be an attorney and served as a judge preceding the secession from the union of Arkansas and concludes with James Yell major general of Arkansas state forces. Born in Tennessee, self-educated Yell taught school, moved to Arkansas where he settled in Pine Bluff and developed into an effective jury lawyer. At the time of the publication of this work he lay in an unmarked grave in Bellwood Cemetery, nevertheless when I visited his grave it was marked with a lovely stone through the determination of southern ancestry groups.

The assembly of men recorded in this work encompassed a sundry set of landed, and city dwellers, most educated, 10 born in northern states, and 9 not born in the United States either north or south. Santos Benavides born in Mexico, in what was to become Laredo, Texas demonstrated his capability as a leader of men.

James Boggs, born in Ireland, was an émigré to Virginia, US, with his parents and siblings where as an adult he became justice of the peace, county sheriff and was chosen to local political office preceding to the war. Pierre Benjamin Buisson born in France in 1793 was the eldest of Confederate brigadiers. Buisson served with Napoleon prior to immigration to New Orleans, Louisiana USA.

Samuel Preston Moore, Surgeon General of the Confederacy was born 1813, South Carolina, served as physician during the war with Mexico during which time he caught President Davis’ attention, served again as surgeon to various units as well as at West Point previous to the War Between the States.

Numerous of the men noted in Allardice’s work did receive their command from President Davis, while some were raised to the rank through service in state militia. Others were elevated to brigadier during or subsequent to battle by the Confederate General under which they served, some seem to have been called general by mistake during later years of their lives, whether as an endeavor to promote status, or for the reason that they were inspector general and that was confused, or another reason is not always clear. Allardice does note whenever conceivable the rank, particularly Confederate Army and state militia units proven in history whether in historical tomes, or in other writings.

Nicholas Bartlett Pearce, collateral relative of mine, served in a none to notable capacity during a transitory period including the battle of Wilson’s Creek, White Oak in Missouri. Gen’l Pearce, while a West Point graduate and colonel in the local Arkansas militia, was a disinclined anti secessionist who half-heartedly received his rank to general by state authority. Most of his service was that as chief commissary at the commissary post in Fort Smith serving District of Texas, Indian Territory’s Ft Gibson and western Arkansas, Trans Mississippi region.

Allardice does list Gen’l Pearce’s bonafidies so to speak and they do include a number of historians, two of which contend Pearce’s was a Gen’l Kirby Smith appointment. However Southern Historical Society Papers, SHSP, seem to indicate state authority only.

Thomas Grimke Rhett, South Carolina, West Point graduate launched his military career as 2d lieutenant of weaponry, Washington DC. Active during war with Mexico Rhett was breveted Captain, joined the staff of Gen’l PGT Beauregard soon after acceptance commission as major, served on staff under Gen’l Joseph E Johnston. Following mêlée of Seven Pines, 1862, Rhett was assigned to Trans Mississippi, and was selected chief of artillery. At the conclusion of the war Rhett refused to linger in America, accepted suggestion he join army of the Khedive of Egypt and served as colonel of ordnance until 1873. A stroke in 1873 left Rhett paralyzed, he resigned his commission, went to Europe, returned to the US in 1876 and lived in Baltimore, Md until his demise, 1878.

Raphael Semmes, Confederate seaman commanded CSS Alabama, took 69 prizes before the Alabama was sunk by USS Kersarge. Promoted to rear Admiral, Semmes commanded James River Squadron. In charge of defense
at Danville, Virginia subsequent to the fall of Richmond, Semmes was listed as Rear Admiral and as Brigadier when paroled following surrender of the Army of Virginia by Gen’l Lee.

Supplementary Generals leading units in Confederate states included 9 from Alabama, 10 from Arkansas, 7 from N Carolina, 9 from S Carolina, 4 from Florida, 15 from Georgia, 9 from Louisiana, 16 from Mississippi, 11 from Tennessee, 18 from Texas and 13 of the men served from Virginia, while 2 led southern units from Kentucky, 14 led Confederate units from Missouri. Many of these men were well educated, 94 had military experience, others were lawyers, served political offices, 72 of the 137 attended college.

More Generals In Gray is a well-researched work dedicated to bringing the lives and actions of a group of officers executing the duties of generals of southern armies in Confederate or state service during the years of the War Between the States to the attention of historians and others. These are men whose names and service has been all but lost and virtually disregarded due to lack of confirmation regarding prescribed promotion to the office by President Davis whilst texts, written records and word of mouth have communicated the deeds of the more celebrated leaders about whom whole books have centered.

In the preface to his work, Allardice tells us that the sketches offered will present a standard body of information for each of the 137 officers included and will present dates and place of birth and death, place of burial, names and occupations of the men’s parents, a likeness of each man, outline of his military career including an evaluation of his claim to the rank of general.

The work does not proffer a standard table of contents, it does list Preface ix, Abbreviations xv, Introduction 1, Biographical Sketches 15, appendix 243 and Biography 259. As a student of the period encompassing the War Between the States, I found the abbreviations to be significant and embraces not only names of some of the generals, but CV, Confederate Veteran a succession of books listing the million plus men of the Confederate army, works found in my personal library, as well as OR denoting the Official Record of the Union and Confederate Armies, 70 volumes accessible for research in many public libraries, SHSP Southern Historical Society Papers, also found in my personal library existing in reprint today in 50+ volumes.

That Allardice has fashioned a work worthy of note can be inferred from the research and bibliography he lists to support his words that the objective of the book is to outline the lives of a long ignored group of officers. Not only does Allardice bring to the fore the lives of these men, but, he clarifies the procedure for achieving rank during the period including that the procedure of becoming a general was often filled with prompting carried out by the man himself, or his friends, or men with whom he served, and the like; as well as unassuming coincidence of time and place with need leading to the ranking General brevetting to brigadier as well as maneuvering, politics, simple chance, or his service in state militia with accomplishment of rank there and carry over to Confederate records, politics, and even mismanagement.

The 1959, Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Gray presaged as a standard of WBTS erudition, established on painstaking standards for qualifying the facts produced through his personal in-depth investigation, recognized 425 men having clearly documented service as Confederate generals. Allardice, long active member of the respected Chicago Civil War Roundtable, after undertaking his own research determined that an additional 137 officers can be recognized as Confederate generals.

As a member of a historical lineage group, I find significant that Allardice’s appendix lists yet another 132 nominees whose recognition as having general rank may yet be authenticated through additional research.

Bruce S. Allardice, long a professor of history, South Suburban College near Chicago, has published a number of articles, compositions and essays appearing in periodicals including Civil War History, Civil War Times Illustrated, and North & South as well as authoring Jeff Davis’s Colonels and serving as coauthor of Texas Burial Sites of Civil War Notables.  This is a well-researched, well-written, comprehensive and easily understood book that will appeal to the WBTS buff, historical reader and average reader.

Reviewed by: molly martin
20+ years classroom teacher
20+ years classroom teacher