The Border between Them: Violence and Reconciliation on the Kansas-Missouri Line/Confederate Rage, Yankee Wrath: No Quarter in the Civil War

Article excerpt

The Border between Them: Violence and Reconciliation on the Kansas-Missouri Line Jeremy Neely. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2007.

Confederate Rage, Yankee Wrath: No Quarter in the Civil War George S. Burkhardt. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007.

Borders, either geographical, financial, emotional, political, or otherwise are sites of heightened reaction to the other occupants facing one or in the vicinity. Political borders, because they usually are fired by all possible fuels, are especially destructive before being quenched by stronger drives.

The most bitter American guerilla animosities and conflict raged along the Kansas-Missouri border from 1856 to 1865. It is hard for us now to understand the bloodshed. The people of both states were similar in all ways-origin, economics, means of earning a living. But they were separated by the most intense fire of the time: slavery and its future. The author of this book, Jeremy Neely, follows the motivations of the fiery John Brown in his determination to free slaves, and of William Quantrell and his guerilla raids that killed nearly everyone he encountered. These two were the barrel of the guns that did the killing. In his book, Neely is interested in those who were killed. It's an informative book of political differences and murder, and of political victims of passions run amuck.

Confederate Rage, Yankee Wrath paints a similar picture though on a much larger scale, and alters our general picture of the "gentleman's war" and "war between brothers" that many of us hold. All living people suffered, both those who went to the lines and those who suffered at home. But Burkhardt's purpose is to demonstrate that it was African Americans who paid the highest blood price though they, obviously, reaped the greatest benefit at the outcome. In general and usually African Americans were looked upon in the South as property and little superior to the other animals on the farm (except females being used for sexual purposes, of course, and sometimes the children who resulted from these liaisons). …