Take a sneak peek at Guerrillas in Civil War Missouri by James W. Erwin. Erwin’s book was recently named best-selling “Adult” title for St. Louis Independent Booksellers, as listed in the Post-Dispatch.
The History Press is pleased to announce the publication of Guerrillas in Civil War Missouri by James W. Erwin.
Long before the Civil War began, Missouri was deeply divided over whether slavery should be extended to neighboring Kansas. This fiery division led to Missouri’s unique turmoil during the war: raids by heavily armed bands of marauders loosely affiliated with the Confederate army were constant.
Federal troops fought more than 1,000 battles in Missouri – mostly with these guerrillas. But the numbers mask the level of violence because they do not include attacks on civilians. Ordinary persons felt the dread of uncertainty when riders approached their homes. Were they Union soldiers or guerrillas in blue coats stolen from soldiers they had ambushed? Sometimes it did not matter.
Despite the fact that guerrillas and their victims were not strangers, General John Pope wrote that it was a frequent occurrence for a party of “bushwhackers […] with fierce oaths and loud threats of burning his house,” to confiscate supplies. And either side might kill the men because Missouri’s civil war was personal on another level. A soldier may be shot riding down a seemingly peaceful road. A guerrilla, unlucky enough to be captured, would often be reported as shot “trying to escape.”
After the war, the former antagonists debated who was responsible for the escalating cycle of killing, retribution and revenge that became more savage as the war continued. Who was the first to scalp the dead enemy? Who was the first to mutilate the bodies of the dead? Once it began, however, the origins no longer mattered. This was Missouri’s guerrilla war: that of ceaseless retaliation and few prisoners.
Guerrillas in Civil War Missouri retails for $19.99 throughout Missouri and is available online at historypress.net.