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General Robert F. Hoke: Lee’s Most Modest Warrior, by Daniel W. Barefoot, John F. Blair, Publisher, Winston-Salem, N.C., 1996, $24.95.

Lincolnton, N.C., named for Revolutionary War hero Benjamin Lincoln, produced four generals for the Confederacy, including Robert F. Hoke. Author Daniel Barefoot admits in his preface that this book, the first full-length biography of the Confederate Army’s youngest major general, was a labor of love–and the reason soon becomes clear.

Hoke was not only a talented military leader–General Robert E. Lee allegedly named him the man most able to replace him should the need ever arise–but also a devoted, if understated, civic leader. While the man’s innate modesty prevented him from using his considerable fame for personal gain, he did not hesitate to use it to further the economic rebuilding of his beloved South. Some of Barefoot’s hero-worship surfaces in the book, but a quick glance through the bibliography reveals that he has also done his homework, including researching a good deal of primary source material.

As a good biography should, the book covers more than the four years of war, but that does not limit the military content. After all, precious few saw the Civil War from the first scrap at Big Bethel to General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender at Bennett House, and practically everything in between. Still, Hoke had not yet reached his 28th birthday when the war ended, and he lived to age 75. The account of his postwar career provides an excellent view of the South during Reconstruction and beyond.

B. Keith Toney