Worthy of the Cause for Which They Fight


The Civil War Diary of Brigadier General Harris Reynolds, 1861-1865
Edited by Robert Patrick Bender
978-1-55728-971-1 (paper)
November 2011


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Worthy of the Cause for Which They Fight chronicles the experiences of a well-educated and articulate Confederate officer from Arkansas who witnessed the full evolution of the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi Department and western theater. Daniel Harris Reynolds, a community leader with a thriving law practice in Chicot County, entered service in 1861 as a captain in command of Company A of the First Arkansas Mounted Rifles. Reynolds saw action at Wilson’s Creek and Pea Ridge before the regiment was dismounted and transferred to the Army of Tennessee, the primary Confederate force in the western theater.

As Reynolds fought through the battles of Chickamauga, Atlanta, Nashville, and Bentonville, he consistently kept a diary in which he described the harsh realities of battle, the shifting fortunes of war, and the personal and political conflicts that characterized and sometimes divided the soldiers. The result is a significant testimonial offering valuable insights into the nature of command from the company to brigade levels, expressed by a committed Southerner coming to grips with the realities of defeat and the ultimate demoralization of surrender.

Robert Patrick Bender is a history instructor at Eastern New Mexico University–Roswell. He is the author of Like Grass before the Scythe: The Life and Death of Sgt. William Remmel, 121st New York Infantry.

“Reynolds’ record is a valuable addition to Confederate literature dealing with both the Trans-Mississippi and Western theaters, and Robert Bender has significantly enhanced it with 98 page of detailed editorial notes.”
Blue & Gray Magazine

“Robert Patrick Bender has rescued a well-written account from archival oblivion and brought this well-educated, perceptive and opinionated historical character back to life. From Wilson’s Creek to Bentonville, Reynolds provides a personal testimonial to the fighting spirit of his fellow Arkansans and a valuable historical record of the war in the west.”
Civil War Times, June 2012

“Historians increasingly argue that the Civil War was won/lost in the West. They will, thus, be pleased to have in print yet another source of information on this theater of war: D. H. Reynolds’s diary. It is a welcome and important publication that will find a ready audience among historians and buffs.”

—John F. Marszalek, executive director and managing editor of the Ulysses S. Grant Association, Mississippi State University

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The Civil War in the West has a single goal: to promote historical writing about the war in the western states and territories. It focuses most particularly on the Trans-Mississippi theater, which consisted of Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, most of Louisiana (west of the Mississippi River), Indian Territory (modern day Oklahoma), and Arizona Territory (two-fifths of modern day Arizona and New Mexico) but encompasses adjacent states, such as Kansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi, that directly influenced the Trans-Mississippi war. It is a wide swath, to be sure, but one too often ignored by historians and, consequently, too little understood and appreciated.


Topically, the series embraces all aspects of the wartime story. Military history in its many guises, from the strategies of generals to the daily lives of common soldiers, forms an important part of that story, but so, too, do the numerous and complex political, economic, social, and diplomatic dimensions of the war. The series also provides a variety of perspectives on these topics. Most importantly, it offers the best in modern scholarship, with thoughtful, challenging monographs.


Secondly, it presents new editions of important books that have gone out of print. And thirdly, it premieres expertly edited correspondence, diaries, reminiscences, and other writings by participants in the war. It is a formidable challenge, but by focusing on some of the least familiar dimensions of the conflict, The Civil War in the West significantly broadens our understanding of the nation’s most pivotal and dramatic story.


—Daniel Sutherland, from the preface of I Do Wish This Cruel War Was Over