American Civil War Guerrillas: Changing the Rules of Warfare

American Civil War Guerrillas: Changing the Rules of Warfare

American Civil War Guerrillas: Changing the Rules of Warfare

American Civil War Guerrillas: Changing the Rules of Warfare


The Civil War is generally regarded as a contest of pitched battles waged by large armies on battlefields such as Gettysburg. However, as "American Civil War Guerrillas: Changing the Rules of Warfare" makes clear, that is far from the whole story. Both the Union and Confederate armies waged extensive guerrilla campaigns--against each other and against civilian noncombatants.

Exposing an aspect of the War Between the States many readers will find unfamiliar, this book demonstrates how the unbridled and unexpectedly brutal nature of guerrilla fighting profoundly affected the tactics and strategies of the larger, conventional war. The reasons for the rise and popularity of guerrilla warfare, particularly in the South and lower Midwest, are examined, as is the way each side dealt with its consequences. Guerrilla warfare's impact on the outcome of the conflict is analyzed as well. Finally, the role of memory in shaping history is touched on in an epilogue that explores how veteran Civil War guerrillas recalled their role in the war.


“Like Ol’ Man River,” the distinguished Civil War historian Peter J. Parish wrote in 1998, “Civil War historiography just keeps rolling along. It changes course occasionally, leaving behind bayous of stagnant argument, while it carves out new lines of inquiry and debate.”

Since Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s men stacked their guns at Appomattox Court House in April 1865, historians and partisans have been fighting a war of words over the causes, battles, results, and broad meaning of the internecine conflict that cost more than 620,000 American lives. Writers have contributed between 50,000 and 60,000 books and pamphlets on the topic. Viewed in terms of defining American freedom and nationalism, western expansion and economic development, the Civil War quite literally launched modern America. “The Civil War,” Kentucky poet, novelist, and literary critic Robert Penn Warren explained, “is for the American imagination, the great single event of our history. Without too much wrenching, it may, in fact, be said to be American history.”

The books in Praeger’s Reflections on the Civil War Era series examine pivotal aspects of the American Civil War. Topics range from examinations of military campaigns and local conditions, to analyses of institutional, intellectual, and social history. Questions of class, gender, and race run through each volume in the series. Authors, veteran experts in their respective fields, provide concise, informed . . .

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