Tuesday, August 26, 2014

the last book I ever read (Shelby Foote's The Civil War, Volume One, excerpt fifteen)

from The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume One: Fort Sumter to Perryville by Shelby Foote:

When the six men assembled at the specified hour it was evident that the general had chosen his supporters wisely. Longstreet had won considerable renown as a poker player, but had given it up three months ago, on the eve of his forty-first birthday, when his three children died of scarlet fever, all within a week. Grief had given him a stolid and ponderous dignity, augmented by a slight deafness which he could sit behind, when he chose, as behind a wall of soundproof glass. He chose to sit so now. A large, square-built, hairy man, a native of the Deep South—born in South Carolina, raised in Georgia, and appointed to West Point from Alabama—he left the talking to Smith, who was a year younger but had been trained for disputation as Street Commissioner of New York City. Like Mansfield Lovell, his New York deputy, Smith had joined the Confederacy late, after waiting to see what his native Kentucky would do. Two months after Manassas he made his choice, which Davis applauded by making him a major general and giving him a division under Johnston, who admired him; the two were “Joe” and “G.W.” to each other. A big-framed man with a large nose and firm-set lips, a West Pointer and a Mexico veteran, a former assistant professor of engineering at the Academy, Smith had been a civilian for the past eight years and was quite accustomed to attending such high-level councils as this. With Davis’ and Johnston’s permission, he said, he would like to submit a memorandum he had prepared. Johnston looked it over, then passed it to Davis, who read it aloud.

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