Author Walter B. Cisco tells readers that States Rights Gist was named ďto honor his fatherís strong political beliefs in statesí rights.Ē His elite South Carolina family counted among its members a governor, William Henry Gist, state and U.S. senators, and members of South Carolinaís legislature. A well-educated man, States Rights attended a prestigious South Carolina College in Columbia, studied law with a lawyer in South Carolina for a time, then went to Harvard Law School in Massachusetts in preparation to receive his law degree and license. He became interested in the local militia, becoming a captain and quickly moving up in rank to becoming a brigadier general in the South Carolina militia. He was also appointed the adjutant general and inspector general of South Carolina.
In 1860, Governor William Henry Gist sent his nephew to visit other Southern governors to feel them out about seceding with South Carolina or waiting for other states to secede. Governor Gist favored seceding after Abraham Lincoln election to the presidency. He called for a convention to be held in Charleston to decide if South Carolina should secede. It did, becoming the first state to do so, and other Southern states followed their lead.
Before secession, States Rights had been reorganizing and developing South Carolinaís militia into a better military force. Commissioned by the Confederate government as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army, he first served around Charleston. He and his brigade were sent to help General Pemberton at Vicksburg, Mississippi, but were unable to join him; the Federal Army under General Grant blocked the way between Jackson, Mississippi and Vicksburg. General Gist and his brigade joined with General Joseph Johnstonís Army of Tennessee, and Gist stayed with the Army of Tennessee to his death. He was at the Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and the various battles leading up to the surrender of Atlanta. He later was involved with that Armyís movements into Tennessee to the Battle of Franklin, where he was killed. Originally buried in a farmerís family graveyard in the Franklin area, his body was later moved to Columbia, South Carolina.
Walter B. Cisco researched various primary sources including diaries, letters, official documents and records. The sources include Gistís letters and diaries, his staff and his friends and family. Cisco includes black-and-white illustrations and maps, while the book jacket bears a color portrait of Gist. There are endnotes, a bibliography and an index, plus two appendices including members of Gistí staff and a description of his death.
This book is highly recommended to those interested in the Civil War, lesser-known Civil War generals, and in South Carolina history.
Walter Brian Cisco served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He received the Army Commendation Medal and was a captain in the South Carolina State Guard. He is the author of War Crimes Against Southern Civilians (2007), Wade Hampton (2004), Henry Timrod (2004), and Taking a Stand (1998). He has written articles for magazines and journals some of which are Confederate Veteran, Civil War, and Southern Partisan.