Punch (review date 25 April 1928)
SOURCE: A review of Marching On, in Punch, Vol. 174, April 25, 1928, pp. 475-76.
[In the following review, the critic praises Boyd's rendering of the American Civil War in Marching On despite the book's familiar and romanticized material.]
I had thought that the species was extinct. Here we have once again a story of the American Civil War, told from the Southern point of view. Its simple name is Marching On (Heinemann), and its author, against whom I hold no previous convictions, is James Boyd. I hasten to add that he has produced an eminently readable piece of work, ancient as his material is. Indeed I felt sometimes that I must surely be reading some old favourite over again. He employs all the best traditional romantic stuff. Here we have again the aristocratic Southern planter, Colonel Prevost, his charming daughter Stewart, and his only son; the neighbouring family of Fraser, the struggling farmer whose young son James falls in love with Stewart as with some being from a higher sphere. Then comes their separation through the customary pride and misunderstanding, the boy's exile in Wilmington, working in the railway-shop, and then the sudden outbreak of war and his return home to enlist in the Cape Fear Rifles. It is curious how we welcome all the old incidents, even down to the killing of Prevost's only son, Stewart's brother, in the lover's presence, the sinking of the old Colonel under the blow, and the ultimate reunion. But Mr. Boyd has some scenes for which we can give him due credit. There may be a touch of Stephen Crane about his battle-pieces, but he has given us “Clubby” Jordan, that lovable commander. And the old life in North Carolina before secession bears the stamp of truth. As to James Fraser, he has all the virtues we expected to find in the clumsy rustic lovers of our youth. He carries us back twenty or thirty years—and what more can we ask than that?