Moss Bluff Rebel
A Texas Pioneer in the Civil War
6 x 9, 232 pp.
7 b&w photos. 3 maps.
Pub Date: 02/10/2009
Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce
Price:        $29.95

title also available as an ebook:
More ebooks

Published by Texas A&M University Press

To Receive E-News

2011 Summerfield G. Roberts Award, presented by the Sons of the Republic of Texas
Included in the University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries 2010 annual collection, selected by The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the Public Library Association (PLA)

Moss Bluff Rebel

A Texas Pioneer in the Civil War

By Philip Caudill

So wrote Texas pioneer cattle drover William Berry Duncan in his March 1862 diary entry, the day he joined the Confederate Army. Despite his misgivings, Duncan left his prosperous business to lead neighbors and fellow volunteers as commanding officer of cavalry Company F of Spaight’s Eleventh Battalion that later became the 21st Texas Infantry in America’s Civil War.

Philip Caudill’s rich account, drawn from Duncan’s previously untapped diaries and letters written by candlelight on the Gulf Coast cattle trail to New Orleans, in Confederate Army camps, and on his southeast Texas farm after the war, reveals the personable Duncan as a man of steadfast integrity and extraordinary leadership. After the war, he returned to his home in Liberty County and battled for survival on the chaotic Reconstruction-era Texas frontier.

Supplemented by archival records and complementary accounts, Moss Bluff Rebel paints a picture of everyday life for the Anglo-Texans who settled the Mexican land grants in the early nineteenth century and subsequently became citizens of the proudly independent Texas Republic. The carefully crafted narrative goes on to reveal the wartime emotions of a reluctant Confederate officer and his postwar struggles to reinvent the lifestyle he knew before the war, a way of life he sensed was lost forever.

Moss Bluff Rebel will appeal to history lovers of all ages attracted to the drama of the Civil War period and the men and women who shaped the Texas frontier.

PHILIP CAUDILL is an adjunct professor of Texas history at Lone Star College – Montgomery in The Woodlands, Texas.  He holds a Master of Arts in History from Sam Houston State University as well as Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma, which has named him a Distinguished Alumnus of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

What Readers Are Saying:

"In Moss Bluff Rebel, Philip Caudill skillfully traces the life and times of William Berry Duncan, Liberty county clerk, sheriff, cattleman, entrepreneur and Confederate soldier. Fully utilizing primary sources, especially Duncan's diaries, and secondary accounts, Caudill describes Duncan's experiences as a captain in Spaight's battalion in Civil War action in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. The author is a diligent researcher, forceful writer - and coincidentally, an entertaining public speaker - and readers will enjoy this spirited narrative about  a reluctant Rebel in the Civil War and Reconstruction." — Ralph A. Wooster, Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus, Lamar University

“Philip Caudill's Moss Bluff Rebel illustrates what can happen when a skilled journalist uncovers a goldmine of robust but underutilized primary sources. This masterfully written and carefully researched biography captures the spirit of Captain William Berry Duncan, a little-known Texas cattleman and businessman who like thousands of other southern pioneers reluctantly swore allegiance to the Confederate cause. A riveting read that both enlightens and entertains, Moss Bluff Rebel will be welcomed by academics and history buffs alike who aspire to understand the ambiguities of this tumultuous era.” --Terry D. Bilhartz, Professor of History at Sam Houston State University

“Moss Bluff Rebel provides an unusual and detailed glimpse into the war years of a junior officer who spent his Civil War service in East Texas and southwestern Louisiana. Using a diary, personal letters, and military records, Caudill traces William Berry Duncan's day-to-day experiences as a captain in a Texas volunteer battalion, where boredom and homesickness were greater threats than the enemy, tainted food and disease the most serious dangers, and business expertise and leadership skills weighed more than bravery under fire.”--Cary D. Wintz, History Department Professor at Texas Southern University

“Phil Caudill's skillful interweaving of biography and history has resulted in a fascinating portrait of a Texas cattleman, entrepreneur, Confederate officer, and poker player extraordinaire. Sprightly prose brings alive this pocket of history surrounding southeast Texas during the Civil War and Reconstruction by focusing attention on the day-to-day heroism and integrity of Texas pioneer William B. Duncan. I wish I could have met and known Captain Duncan. Through these pages, I feel as though I have.” --Deborah Chester, John Crain Presidential Professor at Gaylord College of Journalism, University of Oklahoma

“Moss Bluff Rebel paints a detailed portrait of a fascinating Texan, William Duncan—businessman, county sheriff, cattleman, and Confederate citizen-soldier.” --Col. Matthew Moten, Department of History, West Point

". . . Philip Caudill, has. . . presented a well-written and fascinating picture of life in southeast Texas from the perspective of a cavalry company commander. . . Caudill makes you feel like you know Duncan as well as a colleague." — David White, President, Austin Civil War Round Table

". . . (William) Duncan was the type of everyman who keeps society moving and improving. Moss Bluff Rebel depicts an ordinary man in extraordinary times. The book is valuable because of that. . . Caudill lets readers view the life of the average Texan of the Civil War. . . and experience everyday wartime Texas, and view ordinary people picking up the pieces of their lives afterward." — Mark Lardas, Galveston County Daily News

". . . Details of what was happening in Texas during and after the Civil War make this book much more valuable than most biographies. . . Caudill has presented well-documented fact that reads as easily as a historical or biographical novel." — Marie Beth Jones, The Facts, Brazoria County

"Moss Bluff Rebel is an excellent social history with a particular audience in mind. The reader comes away with a genuine understanding of what it was like to survive on the frontier through floods and hard economic times. This work is an extremely detailed biography of a Confederate soldier and the society in which he lived. The genealogist and anyone interest in the economics of the Southwest will probably find this book very worthwhile. I came away from it with a better understanding of the frontier experience."--John Michael Priest, Blue and Gray Magazine

"In this well-crafted biography, Phil Caudill paints a vivid portrait of William Berry Duncan's fascinating life. Moreover, he gives us one of the best glimpses yet of life on the Civil War home front in Texas." — Dr. Gregg Cantrell, Lowe Chair in Texas History, Texas Christian University


Texas Civil War Artifacts
Civil War in the Southwest
Blood and Treasure
Fire in the Cane Field
Review Copy Request Form Desk Copy Request Form