In Memoriam: Maj. Gen. Samuel Ryan Curtis, edited by anonymous
Admittedly, this particular short book is highly repetitive. After the sudden and unexpected death of Samuel Ryan Curtis, it did not take long for various people to write obituaries and reflections upon his life. These were collected in the town where Curtis lived the last twenty years or so of his life and were published, where they continue to serve to this day as an interesting source to an unjustly obscure leader whose Civil War greatness has been far too heavily disregarded. After reading a few of these, most of the tributes do not give new information, but rather regurgitate the existing information in familiar fashion. This is not bad, and this sort of book is precisely what one would expect a scrapbook about a notable person to have, basically similar and favorable takes on a life that go over the same ground over and over again because there are some things one has to mention, with a few of the accounts being more in-depth and more informative but most of them having a very narrow range that they wish to write about over and over again, demonstrating the sort of people who found Curtis the most compelling.
This particular book is about 70 pages long or so and it consists of various accounts of the life and death of Samuel Ryan Curtis. As far as the latter is concerned, Curtis was old but hardly decrepit and had just finished some railroad business in Nebraska and was crossing a river into his adopted home state of Iowa when he suddenly had a heart attack and died quickly on the way to the home of a friend. The accounts of his life invariably discuss his brave service in the Civil War as a general at Pea Ridge and Westport and praise him for difficult jobs, some of which involved political disputes that Lincoln had to mediate by moving him out of Missouri to more antislavery areas where his antislavery zeal was more appreciated. Some of the memorials discuss his youth and early Whig politics in Ohio and how he went to West Point, retired from the military to work in the railroads, and moved to Iowa after some time as a military governor during the Mexican War. By and large the people who wrote material are abolitionists or those sympathetic with such political views, which gives some idea of Curtis’ friends and allies.