Appointed by President Lincoln to command the Gulf Department in November 1862, Nathaniel Prentice Banks was given three assignments, one of which was to occupy some point in Texas. He was told that when he united his army with Grant’s, he would assume command of both. Banks, then, had the opportunity to become the leading general in the West—perhaps the most important general in the war. But he squandered what successes he had, never rendezvoused with Grant’s army, and ultimately orchestrated some of the greatest military blunders of the war. “Banks’s faults as a general,” writes author Stephen A. Dupree, “were legion.”
The originality of Planting the Union Flag in Texas lies not just in the author’s description of the battles and campaigns Banks led, nor in his recognition of the character traits that underlay Banks’s decisions. Rather, it lies in how Dupree synthesizes his studies of Banks’s various actions during his tour of duty in and near Texas to help the reader understand them as a unified campaign. He skillfully weaves together Banks’s various attempts to gain Union control of Texas with his other activities and shines the light of Banks’s character on the resulting events to help explain both their potential and their shortcomings.
In the end, readers will have a holistic understanding of Banks’s “appalling” failure to win Texas and may even be led to ask how the post–Civil War era might have been different had he been successful. This fine study will appeal to Civil War buffs and fans of military and Texas history.
STEPHEN A. DUPREE is retired from Sandia National Laboratories, where he served as an expert in nuclear nonproliferation, international safeguards, and the detection and analysis of nuclear radiation. A lifelong interest in the Civil War, especially actions in the Southwest, led to the research for this book. Dupree holds a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from Purdue University. He lives in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
What Readers Are Saying:
“This book is highly recommended to Civil War enthusiasts interested in the war in the western region and those interested in Texas and Louisiana history.” --The Oklahoman
“Lively re-telling of the story. . . . Highly recommended to those interested in the Civil War in the West or the Trans-Mississippi department, and those interested in Texas and Louisiana history.” --Curledup.com
“Planting the Flag in Texas may be the most significant study yet produced of Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks’ complex and ambitious designs on Texas. Illuminating, impressively researched and engaging, Dupree’s fine work is likely to delight anyone interested in the history of the Civil War or the Lone Star State. The book is highly recommended.”--Jerry Thompson, Regents Professor of History
“Stephen Dupree's Planting the Union Flag in Texas does two things remarkably well. It brings a fresh look to an important theater of the America's bloodiest conflict, and it also answers the age-old question, ‘Why Did Texas Matter in the Civil War?’ The author weaves this narrative with style and flare, and presents an important contribution to the field.” --Donald S. Frazier, Ph.D., Professor of History, McMurry University