America's Civil War

TABLE TALK

Austin John Reeks, born in England in 1840, carved out a Confederate career of exotic hues. Reinventing himself with a new name—Francis Warrington Dawson—the young man came to North America on a Confederate steamer, served briefly with the Southern Navy, then joined a Richmond artillery battery. By the late summer of 1862, the 22-year-old Englishman had landed on Maj. Gen. James Longstreet’s staff as ordnance officer. Serving in that high-level headquarters, Dawson witnessed the leadership of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at close range. His memoir, ably presented and full of insight, remains a classic in Confederate literature.

Three years after his Reminiscences of Confederate Service reached print in 1882, Dawson published another significant book: Our Women in the War: The Lives They Lived; the Deaths They Died. The newspaper he ran, the Charleston (S.C.) News and Courier, had solicited accounts from Confederate women and published them steadily. Our Women reprinted 79 of the articles. Dawson’s name does not appear in the book, but his company obtained the copyright, and he signed many of the surviving copies. His own wife will be forever famous in her own right for her contribution to the literature of the war. Sarah Morgan Dawson’s Confederate Girl’s Diary remains a classic, still in print after more than a century. No other Southern couple published a pair of books that could approach that sort of cachet.

The book about Southern women prompted the Baltimore Confederate veterans’ organization—the

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