Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CIVIL WAR VIGNETTES OF ACADIANA…

I’ve written many times about the works of Morris Raphael, a New Iberia writer who has been my friend for over thirty years, and I’m happy that his latest book, CIVIL WAR VIGNETTES OF ACADIANA, A SESQUICENTENNIAL COMMEMORATIVE, has been published in time for the Sesquicentennial celebration of the Civil War in April of this year. Morris has made valuable contributions to the history and culture of Acadiana through 13 books he has published and memorable accounts about people and events in his Sunday column in the Daily Iberian. A resident of New Iberia for sixty years, he has written about bayou country so masterfully that he was acknowledged by Sunday Advocate columnist Damon Veach in 2006 as being “in the same class as Lyle Saxon, Harnett T. Kane, and Robert Tallant,” an accolade that showcases Morris’s ability to transform historical ideas into highly readable stories.

CIVIL WAR VIGNETTES OF ACADIANA contains 45 human interest vignettes about the War Between the States occurring in bayou country Louisiana. Morris derived the stories from Official Records of the U.S. Government, regimental histories, diaries, authors’ works, letters of soldiers, and personal reminiscences. It is the first book of vignettes about the Civil War in Acadiana to be published, a volume that points out places in Teche country where “Yankees and Rebels roamed the countryside and fought it out in bloody encounters,” according to Morris. It includes several maps that Morris rendered himself, showing approximate location of battlefields, forts, and camp sites along Bayou Teche.

In addition to being a writer, Morris has enjoyed drawing for many years and illustrated many of his stories, book covers, and postcards that commemorate various battles in bayou country. The illustrations in CIVIL WAR VIGNETTES OF ACADIANA embellish the cover and numerous chapters of the book, the originals of which were rendered in color and are collectibles in themselves.

Morris, a native of Natchez, Mississippi who has lived in the Teche country for six decades, is a retired project engineer with a background in journalism. He was city editor for the Franklin-Banner-Tribune and has contributed feature articles to the Daily Iberian and Acadiana Lifestyle, as well as other notable journals. In 1979 he received the Jefferson Davis Award from the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and in 1985 he was inducted into the Iberia Parish Second Wind Hall of Fame. In 1991 he received the annual Cajun Culture Award for his work in advancing Cajun culture. He has been president of the Attakapas Historical Association, the Iberia Cultural Resources Association, and has served on the Council of the Shadow-on-the-Teche and the board of the St. Mary Chapter Louisiana Landmarks. He also belongs to the Louisiana Historical Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Here is an excerpt from CIVIL WAR VIGNETTES OF ACADIANA from the chapter entitled “An Embarrassing Incident” regarding Confederate General Nathaniel Banks during the construction of the Red River Dam at Alexandria, taken from the Worcester National Aegis and Transcript, June, 1864:

“The other day, a man of the 118th New York, who was at work on the dam, suddenly quit his hold on the log he was lifting and commenced damning General Banks instead of the Red River Dam. General Banks was right behind him in his slouch hat, cavalry pants, and flannel blouse, at work shoveling dirt…and the blackguarding he received was too much for his feelings to bear without notice. So he went over to the New Yorker and took hold of the log himself, saying, ‘Keep your temper my good fellow; keep cool. Old Colonel Banks has been in many a tighter place than this. He’ll get you out all right.’ The writer said that the New Yorker was so ashamed and conscience stricken that he related the incident to all he met ‘as an atonement for his evil speech.’”

Morris relates numerous incidents that chronicle the losses and triumphs of both Yankees and Rebels fighting in bayou country and has included tales about drunkenness among the ranks, the destruction of fine antebellum homes, and several priests’ involvement in the Civil War. This is an excellent commemorative book which all Civil War buffs, as well as collectors of Louisiana books, should include in their libraries. Morris says that his personal archives contain many Civil War stories that he has collected for decades, and CIVIL WAR VIGNETTES OF ACADIANA is only a small portion of the yield!

Morris is an inspiration to all writers in Acadiana – at 93, he is still writing and drawing apace. Because I encouraged him to write this book, he honored me by dedicating CIVIL WAR VIGNETTES OF ACADIANA to me, which I acknowledge with much gratitude and appreciation.

Order CIVIL WAR VIGNETTES OF ACADIANA from Morris Raphael, 1404 Bayou Side Drive, New Iberia, Louisiana 70563 for $19.95. Postage and handling free.
Post a Comment