The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History

The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History

The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History

The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History

Synopsis

Guerrilla warfare, border fights, and unorganized skirmishes are all too often the only battles associated with Missouri during the Civil War. Combined with the state's distance from both sides' capitals, this misguided impression paints Missouri as an insignificant player in the nation's struggle to define itself. Such notions, however, are far from an accurate picture of the Midwest state's contributions to the war's outcome. Though traditionally cast in a peripheral role, the conventional warfare of Missouri was integral in the Civil War's development and ultimate conclusion. The strategic battles fought by organized armies are often lost amidst the stories of guerrilla tactics and bloody combat, but in The Civil War in Missouri, Louis S. Gerteis explores the state's conventional warfare and its effects on the unfolding of national history. Both the Union and the Confederacy had a vested interest in Missouri throughout the war. The state offered control of both the lower Mississippi valley and the Missouri River, strategic areas that could greatly factor into either side's success or failure. Control of St. Louis and mid-Missouri were vital for controlling the West, and rail lines leading across the state offered an important connection between eastern states and the communities out west. The Confederacy sought to maintain the Ozark Mountains as a northern border, which allowed concentrations of rebel troops to build in the Mississippi valley. With such valuable stock at risk, Lincoln registered the importance of keeping rebel troops out of Missouri, and so began the conventional battles investigated by Gerteis. The first book-length examination of its kind, The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History dares to challenge the prevailing opinion that Missouri battles made only minor contributions to the war. Gerteis specifically focuses not only on the principal conventional battles in the state but also on the effects these battles had on both sides' national aspirations. This work broadens the scope of traditional Civil War studies to include the losses and wins of Missouri, in turn creating a more accurate and encompassing narrative of the nation's history.

Excerpt

In the history of the United States nothing rankles more than the tensions and enmities of the Civil War. in this military history of the war in Missouri, I have tried to offer a balanced account of the conflict’s triumphs and defeats. At the same time I recognize that all histories are shaped by the perspectives and experiences of the historians who write them. Perhaps some observations about my own background will help to locate this work in a usable context.

I have dedicated this book to my late colleague James Neal Primm, an economic historian with a particular interest in banking policy. His knowledge of Missouri history was deep and wide, and in the arena of Civil War disputes and historiography, he was as surefooted as anyone I have known. Primm was from a Unionist family in Edina, in northeast Missouri, a region where proslavery and pro-southern sentiments clashed harshly with the free labor and northernoriented interests of the region’s commercial farmers and merchants. in the Unionist view, Missouri was not a southern state but an essential national corridor linking East and West. After World War II, Primm entered graduate school at the University of Missouri and studied history at a time when Revisionist historiography dominated interpretations of the Civil War Era. Among the most influential of the Revisionists was Avery O. Craven of the University of Chicago. Craven and the Revisionists generally downplayed the importance of slavery as a cause of the Civil War. More important were the irresponsible zealots on both sides of the sectional divide and the pandering politicians who empowered them. It was an interpretation of the Civil War that Primm understood but never accepted: he always knew that slavery was the cause of the war because his father told him that it was.

So it is with me. My interest in history and my understanding of the past are shaped by family memories. I was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Neither of my parents had immediate family ties to the Civil War, but the war was never very distant from our lives. My father’s German ancestors immigrated to the United States immediately after the Civil War and eventually settled in eastern Kansas. My mother’s family moved into southwestern Missouri after the Civil War and settled in Neosho. My parents met and married in Kansas City where, I suspect, they believed they had left behind the parochial concerns of a distant sectional . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.