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New Civil War biography by Escondido man touches on county history

McFarland & Co. Publishers of Jefferson, North Carolina, has this month released a second book by Escondido resident Gene Armistead. “An Arch Rebel Like Myself, Dan Showalter and the Civil War in California and Texas” is the first biography of Dan Showalter, a Pennsylvanian who came to California during the Gold Rush, was a leader of the pro-secession faction of the California Assembly in 1861, triumphed in our state’s last political duel, was involved in the display of a Confederate flag on the streets of Sacramento, and commanded the Confederacy’s 4th Arizona Cavalry in the Indian Territory, Arkansas, north Texas, and along the Rio Grande.

A full chapter details the November 1861 capture of the “Showalter Party” at Minter’s Ranch near present-day Lake Henshaw. Armistead and his co-author, Robert D. Arconti, utilized official records, contemporary newspaper accounts, and memoirs in addition to consulting with members of the families of Showalter and Lt. Chauncey Wellman who captured him.

This chapter includes two period maps of the area and never-before published photographs of Lt. Wellman and the pistol then in use by one of the Union cavalrymen involved in the capture. Also of interest will be a most detailed account and analysis of a September 1864 battle along the banks of the Rio Grande in which Showalter commanded the Confederates against a combined force of Union and Mexican Liberal troops and artillery.

Originally from Alabama, Armistead came to this area at the conclusion of his service as a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam. His wife, Darlene, has resided in Escondido since 1954. He is retired from management in the electronics components industry and has since had published several articles about aspects of the Civil War and his 1st book, Horses and Mules in the Civil War came out in 2013. “An Arch Rebel Like Myself” has been reviewed by Dr. Jerry Thompson, former president of the Texas State Historical Association and Regents Professor of History for the Texas A&M University system, who wrote that it is “a stunning historical inquiry … fascinating in its contents … this masterful and definitive study is highly recommended.”

Dan Showalter in his day was certainly one of our states most colorful and controversial figures – somewhat the epitome of treason in the pro-Union press. This book is available from the publisher and online via Amazon and other distributors.

 

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