TAMIU Professor’s Collaborative
Dr. Jerry Thompson
Texas A&M International University Regents Professor of History Dr. Jerry Thompson has been selected to receive a Southwest Book Award for his collaborative book, “The Reminiscences of Major General Zenas R. Bliss, 1854-1876.”
The Southwest Book Award is sponsored by the Border Regional Library Association.
In the book, Dr. Thompson explores the early years of General Zenas R. Bliss, who received the Medal of Honor in the Civil War at the Battle of Fredericksburg.
Thompson collaborated with Thomas T. Smith, a colonel in the United States Army and Robert Wooster, a professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi who continued the work of Ben Pingenot, a man from Eagle Pass who years earlier had began sorting through General Bliss’ memoirs. After Pingenot fell ill and later lost his work to a computer problem, Thompson, Smith, and Wooster decided to try to finish Pingenot’s work.
Thompson sorted through General Bliss’ early experiences in Texas up to the Civil War. As most historians agree, Bliss’ memoirs are one of the best sets of 19thcentury military recollections in Texas.
When referring to his collections of memories, Bliss said “this book, if in any sense it is a book, is properly a collection of reminiscences that might perhaps serve for the foundation of a book.”
“Bliss was an amazing man, who recorded almost everything; he was objective and thorough,” said Thompson.
“I have frequently been urged to write a book for publication, and as an inducement I have been told that the life led on the frontier 30 years ago would soon pass from the memory of people and that it ought to be recorded,” Zenas R. Bliss, Major General United States Army, 1886.
Thompson, Smith, and Wooster took Bliss’ typed recollections, edited them and added notes on the historical significance of those being mentioned. Bliss’ typed memoirs can be found in the archives at the University of Texas at Austin.
An author of more than 20 books, Thompson is considered one of the country’s top scholars on the Southwest Campaign of the American Civil War and Border History.
The Texas Institute of Letters awarded him the Best Scholarly Book Published in 2006 award for his “Civil War to the Bloody End: The Life and Times of Major General Samuel P. Heintzelman.” His recent biography, Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas, is thought to be the definitive study of Juan Nepomuceno Cortina and has won numerous awards.
Thompson has also received awards from the Texas Historical Commission, Western Writers of America, Texas State Historical Association, Historical Society of New Mexico and the Arizona Historical Society.
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