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The Civil War Guerrilla

The Civil War Guerrilla: Unfolding the Black Flag in History, Memory, and Myth

Joseph M. Beilein
Matthew C. Hulbert
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 258
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    The Civil War Guerrilla
    Book Description:

    Most Americans are familiar with major Civil War battles such as Manassas (Bull Run), Shiloh, and Gettysburg, which have been extensively analyzed by generations of historians. However, not all of the war's engagements were fought in a conventional manner by regular forces. Often referred to as "the wars within the war," guerrilla combat touched states from Virginia to New Mexico. Guerrillas fought for the Union, the Confederacy, their ethnic groups, their tribes, and their families. They were deadly forces that plundered, tortured, and terrorized those in their path, and their impact is not yet fully understood.

    In this richly diverse volume, Joseph M. Beilein Jr. and Matthew C. Hulbert assemble a team of both rising and eminent scholars to examine guerrilla warfare in the South during the Civil War. Together, they discuss irregular combat as practiced by various communities in multiple contexts, including how it was used by Native Americans, the factors that motivated raiders in the border states, and the women who participated as messengers, informants, collaborators, and combatants. They also explore how the Civil War guerrilla has been mythologized in history, literature, and folklore.

    The Civil War Guerrillasheds new light on the ways in which thousands of men, women, and children experienced and remembered the Civil War as a conflict of irregular wills and tactics. Through thorough research and analysis, this timely book provides readers with a comprehensive examination of the guerrilla soldier and his role in the deadliest war in U.S. history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6534-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword Inside Fellman’s War
    (pp. vii-x)
    Christopher Phillips

    “War is hell and people are shits.” Such was my first introduction to my longtime friend Michael Fellman.

    The year 1991 was a heady one for me, a published yet unminted PhD student of southern history finishing my dissertation while teaching fulltime as an instructor at the University of Georgia. My first book had been issued the previous year, a study of a controversial federal army commander in a slave state—Missouri—barely linked in prevailing scholarship either to southern history or to the Civil War’s metanarrative. Born as an MA thesis, the book’s contention was that Nathaniel Lyon’s rash...

  4. Introduction Of Black Flags and History, Authentic and Apocryphal
    (pp. 1-12)
    Joseph M. Beilein Jr. and Matthew C. Hulbert

    In the spring of 1864, Union soldiers were restringing telegraph line through Cross Hollow, Arkansas, when they spotted something strange. Hanging over the road—in these otherwise deserted woods—fluttered a black flag. And upon closer investigation, they discovered a note pinned to the banner. According to the Union officer’s transcription, the message read, “We will kill all men that pass this road, and woe be the man that takes down this flag. J. W. Cooper, Captain, Bush.” In no uncertain terms, Captain Cooper’s note communicated the fundamental meaning of the flag: no quarter.¹

    The authenticity ofthisflag notwithstanding,...

  5. The Hard-Line War: The Ideological Basis of Irregular Warfare in the Western Border States
    (pp. 13-42)
    Christopher Phillips

    “Jeb Stuart’s Ride around McClellan?” mocked Confederate veterans of the trans-Mississippi theater of their more eastern counterparts when attending postwar national encampments and reunions. “Hell, brother, Jo Shelby rode around MISSOURI!”¹

    The proudly invoked reference was the 1863 cavalry raid into southern and western Missouri led by Confederate colonel Joseph Orville “Jo” Shelby. His eight hundred horsemen covered fifteen hundred miles in forty-one days; killed or captured some eleven hundred Federal troops, six hundred guns, and six thousand horses and mules; inflicted $800,000 worth of property damage; and destroyed more than a million dollars’ worth of Federal military supplies and...

  6. Controlled Chaos: Spatiotemporal Patterns within Missouri’s Irregular Civil War
    (pp. 43-70)
    Andrew William Fialka

    At the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse in May 1864, Private Thomas Roche witnessed a fellow Confederate “throw down his musket and pick up a hatchet. As a Federal c[ame] at him with a bayonet, he pushed it aside with his left hand, while with the hatchet in his right he brain[ed] his opponent. . . . The Federals shrank from the sickening scene.”¹ Historians who analyze fierce accounts such as Roche’s do so in the larger context of battle. Individually, Roche’s rendition of the fighting at Spotsylvania seems chaotic. However, when cartographers inscribe Roche in a square labeled “Sixteenth Mississippi”...

  7. Violence, Conflict, and Loyalty in the Carolina Piedmont: A Comparative Perspective
    (pp. 71-98)
    David Brown and Patrick J. Doyle

    W. W. Herbert was fully aware of the potential utility of guerrilla warfare for the southern cause. A resident of the South Carolina Piedmont who had spent much of the late 1850s in Kansas devoting himself “to the advancement of the interests of the South,” Herbert wrote to several influential acquaintances in Fairfield District with a new project in mind as the secession crisis deepened in the winter of 1860–1861. This venture was to be “a company of mounted men, which shall beindependentof all other military organizations,” raised with the intention to “wage a war upon our...

  8. Indians Make the Best Guerrillas: Native Americans and the War for the Desert Southwest, 1861–1862
    (pp. 99-122)
    Megan Kate Nelson

    Felix Collard was exhausted but he could not fall asleep. The march that day had been long and hot; he and his compatriots in Company G, Seventh Texas Mounted Rifles had collapsed on the banks of Limpia Creek as soon as they arrived. The air had cooled considerably, as they were camped along the floor of a high desert canyon. But there was a full moon, and his horse, Pete, was restless. Collard had let him loose to graze on the riverbank and he paced nervously, dragging his rope behind him through the scrub brush. Collard fancied he could hear...

  9. The Business of Guerrilla Memory: Selling Massacres and the Captivity Narrative of Sergeant Thomas M. Goodman
    (pp. 123-144)
    Matthew C. Hulbert

    On September 27, 1864, Confederate guerrillas under the command of William “Bloody Bill” Anderson intercepted a train as it approached the previously unrenowned village of Centralia, Missouri. One among the caravan of passenger cars harbored twenty-five furloughed Union soldiers. They were, by virtually all accounts, unarmed. Nevertheless, Anderson’s men de-trained the Federals at gunpoint, lined them up alongside the hijacked locomotive, and unceremoniously forced them to their knees. With his new prisoners at bay, Anderson himself appeared and sought out a sergeant from their ranks. One man, unaware of the guerrilla chieftain’s intentions (though likely assuming the worst—they called...

  10. Tales of Race, Romance, and Irregular Warfare: Guerrillas Fictionalized, 1862–1866
    (pp. 145-174)
    John C. Inscoe

    During Christmas week in 1862, Richmond theatergoers were introduced to a new melodrama calledThe Guerrillas.The three-act play, written by a twenty-year-old Richmond native, John Dabney McCabe Jr., was the first original drama produced in the Confederacy. Its enthusiastic reception that week led McCabe to publish—and apparently widely circulate—the script early in 1863, which led to productions on stages elsewhere in the South over the next two years, including Wilmington, North Carolina; Macon, Georgia; and Mobile, Alabama, as well as two encore stagings in the Confederate capital.¹ In an introduction to the published play, Mc-Cabe explained that...

  11. In Search of Manse Jolly: Mythology and Facts in the Hunt for a Post–Civil War Guerrilla
    (pp. 175-206)
    Rod Andrew Jr.

    Civil War–era guerrillas, like other outlaws, can be mysterious and elusive figures. Factual records on shadowy figures such as Civil War guerrillas are often sparse, incomplete, and unsatisfying. Myths, on the other hand, claim to tell us more. As thrilling and fascinating tales, they often inspire readers to attempt to learn the truth. They suggest insights into the motivations and personalities of the guerrillas as well. They sometimes even claim to explain the meaning of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The myths, though, while claiming to offer much more than the factual record does, can be misleading and can...

  12. “Nothing but Truth Is History”: William E. Connelley, William H. Gregg, and the Pillaging of Guerrilla History
    (pp. 207-230)
    Joseph M. Beilein Jr.

    Like so many veterans of the Civil War, William H. Gregg recorded his experiences of the war during the first decade of the twentieth century. Unlike most other veterans of the war, however, Gregg had fought as a southern-sympathizing guerrilla on the Kansas-Missouri border under the leadership of William Clarke Quantrill. Characterized by hit-and-run tactics and waged around the guerrillas’ homes and in the presence of women, children, and old men, warfare under Quantrill was a world apart from the conventional warfare that comes to mind when thinking of the Civil War. William E. Connelley, a writer and amateur historian,...

  13. Afterword
    (pp. 231-236)
    Victoria E. Bynum

    Guerrilla warfare—brutal, savage, and frequently characterized as “uncivilized” (particularly when practiced by one’s enemies)—was long treated by historians, if treated at all, as a deviant slice of the American Civil War. Michael Fellman’s groundbreaking study of Missouri guerrillas,Inside War(1989), changed that. Today, historians increasingly emphasize “irregular” activities by civilians, along with overt and covert resistance by slaves, as crucial to the outcome of the war.The Civil War Guerrillacontinues that trend, repositioning the “inside wars” waged by men (variously labeled as bushwhackers, jayhawkers, partisan rangers, deserters, or outliers) and their home-front allies (including women, children,...

  14. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 237-238)
  15. List of Contributors
    (pp. 239-240)
  16. Index
    (pp. 241-244)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-248)