Dorothy Sloan – Books

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[BIOGRAPHY]. BALLENTINE, George. Autobiography of an English Soldier in the United States Army. London: Hurst & Blackett, Publishers, Successors to Henry Colburn, 13, Great Marlborough Street, 1853. 2 vols. Vol. I: [2], [1] 2-306, [1] 2-7 [1], [1] 2-16 pp; Vol. II: [2], [1] 2-313 [1, blank], [1] 2-16 pp. 8vo (20.5 x 13 cm), original green embossed cloth, spines gilt lettered. Faded, especially at spines, corners slightly bumped; lower cover of Vol. 1 with two paper adhesions; Vol. 1 wants front flyleaf. Interiors very fine.

First book edition (serialized as “Adventures of an English Soldier in Mexico” in Colburn’s United Service Magazine and Naval and Military Journal, 1850-1853; Tutorow 2636). Clark, Old South III:125.1. Connor & Faulk 72: “Ballentine served in Scott’s army. The book, which was apparently written from memory, contains observations that seem accurate, although the author did not have the revulsion for camp life and military discipline that most soldiers expressed.” Garrett & Goodwin, pp. 190-191. Haferkorn, p. 41. Howes B77. Tutorow 3625.

Of all Mexican-American War biographies, this is probably the most jocular and rollicking, full of amusing anecdotes and not so much on battle gore and guts, although there is a measure of those. Generously salted with dialect and pithy language. He has a different take on the capture of Santa-Anna’s supposed leg, believing it to have been the leg of someone else (Vol. II, pp. 101-102). Ballentine enlisted in New York City and served in Florida before being assigned to Scott’s command. This work is listed in the Vol. 1 ads at 21 shillings.


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