Professor’s Passion for Texas History Evident in Award-Winning Book
Published on: July 25, 2011
When it comes to the Civil War in Texas, Philip Caudill, an adjunct professor of history at Lone Star College-Montgomery, wrote the book—literally. And now his historical biography has been awarded the 2011 Summerfield G. Roberts Award, an honor presented by the Sons of the Republic of Texas, as the best book on the Civil War in Texas published in 2009.
It’s just one more accolade for Caudill, whose passion for Texas history is as deep as Texas is wide.
His book, “Moss Bluff Rebel: A Texas Pioneer in the Civil War” (Texas A&M University Press, 2009), has also been selected for the University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries 2010 annual collection; recommended by the American Association of School Librarians and the Public Library Association; included in the Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life by Texas A&M University Press; and praised by several noted historians and professors.
“It’s a great honor to have been able to help a Texas pioneer leave his legacy,” said Caudill, who holds two masters’ degrees—one in journalism, the other in history. “It’s also a blessing for me to have added to the body of knowledge in Texas history.”
“Moss Bluff Rebel” recounts the life of William Berry Duncan, a 19th century Texas pioneer, cattle drover, and twice-elected Liberty County sheriff, who after much prompting and peer pressure reluctantly joined the Confederate Army to fight in the Civil War. In the book, Caudill combines his 35-year international career in journalism and business, his fervor for history, and more than 50 primary and 250 secondary sources to share Duncan’s story.
“I literally ‘cold-called’ libraries across Texas asking if they held any primary resources related to the Civil War,” explained Caudill. “I got a lot of no’s, until one day, a librarian at the Sam Houston Regional Library in Liberty told me there were two boxes of letters and business diaries kept by a Confederate cavalry officer in their collection. I asked her what time the library closed and drove to Liberty right away.”
In the first diary he opened, Caudill read: “I was not willing, but finally agreed….” Those words, written by Duncan in 1862 on his decision to join the Confederacy, challenged Caudill to begin an 18-month journey of meticulous research and writing to create the biography of a previously unknown Anglo-Texas pioneer cattleman.
“I ‘walked the walk’ with Duncan,” said Caudill. “I even followed his cattle trail to New Orleans and crossed rivers where he drove his herds. No historian had ever done anything with his records, and now it turns out I’ve contributed something to society that Texans can enjoy forever.”
Caudill uses “Moss Bluff Rebel” as one of two supplemental reading assignments in his Texas History (HIST 2301) course, offered this fall semester at LSC-Montgomery on Tuesday and Thursday from 10-11:20 a.m.
“It’s a wonderful book,” said Susan Mayer, an LSC-Montgomery student who holds a 4.0 GPA. “Caudill adds texture to the story by talking about what was going on in America around that time. You get the impression that Caudill knew Duncan, and most certainly, that he grew to respect him greatly as he wrote the book.”
Mayer, who plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in either history or English, said Caudill was interesting and engaging and his passion for Texas came through in each class.
“Now I appreciate Texas so much more,” she said. “I’ll be driving around the state with my husband and be able to tell him, ‘Here is what I know about that.’”
When not in the classroom, Caudill enjoys kayaking the bayous and swamps along Texas rivers, cycling, and spending time with his two grandsons that “love their crazy granddad.”
“I’ve been very fortunate in my life—I’ve had wonderful friends, worked hard, taken some risks and survived a few,” he said. “Now, I’m a teacher, and I love it. Writing ‘Moss Bluff Rebel’ and teaching are special ways for me to give back. I’m a lucky guy.”
For more information about Caudill’s book, visit www.mossbluffrebel.org.
LSC-Montgomery is located at 3200 College Park Drive, one-half mile west of Interstate 45, between Conroe and The Woodlands. For more information about the college, call 936.273.7000, or visit www.LoneStar.edu/montgomery.
With more than 69,000 students in credit classes for fall 2010, and a total enrollment of more than 85,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Park, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.