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Robert Toombs: The Civil War of the United States Senator and Confederate General

Mark Scroggins; McFarland & Co.

“Restore the government to the people,” the ex-senator railed. “Let the Government perform faithfully its great mission of administering justice and protecting property and let the people alone.” A modern Tea Party rally? No, it was Robert Toombs addressing a crowd in Warrenton, Ga., in September 1875. As Mark Scroggins describes in his biography of the Georgia lawyer, senator and general, Toombs spent a lifetime being true to his convictions. Proslavery and an advocate of states’ rights, Toombs was initially against secession, but once his state committed to that course in 1861, he became a fire-breathing Rebel. Toombs’ poor grasp of military protocol led to his arrest on the eve of Second Manassas, but at Antietam the general earned commendations.

Returning from postwar exile in France, Toombs blamed Confederate President Jefferson Davis for losing the war. Of Ulysses S. Grant, he wrote, “He fought for his country honorably and won; I fought for mine and lost. I am ready to try it over again. Death to the Union.” Though criticized for his inflammatory words, Toombs never backed down, responding, “Why shouldn’t I say it? I feel it—I mean it—it is in my heart, and why should I deny it?”

This is an entertaining look at one of history’s greatest, and most unapologetic, curmudgeons.


Originally published in the August 2012 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.