Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

John P. Gatewood: Confederate Bushwhacker

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

John P. Gatewood: Confederate Bushwhacker

Article excerpt

John P. Gatewood: Confederate Bushwhacker. By Larry D. Stephens. (Gretna, La.: Pelican Publishing Company, 2012. Pp. 192. $25.95, ISBN 978-14556-1711-1.)

John P. Gatewood: Confederate Bushwhacker is, as the title promises, a biography of a Confederate bushwhacker from East Tennessee. The book follows the life of John P. Gatewood from the beginning of the Civil War until his disappearance in 1875. The teenaged Gatewood began the war as a cavalryman in the Confederate army. He fought in the battles of Perryville and Murfreesboro. In January 1863 Gatewood deserted the Confederate army and returned home to Fentress County, Tennessee. He joined the guerrilla band of Champ Ferguson, who targeted Tennessee citizens believed to be Union sympathizers. Ferguson and his men were rumored to have killed more than a hundred people by the end of the war. From 1864 until the close of the war, Gatewood led his own gang of guerrillas against Union sympathizers in northern Georgia and Alabama. After the war Gatewood fled to Texas to avoid revenge at the hands of those he had brutalized.

Exactly what happened after Gatewood arrived in Texas is unknown. That is the major problem with Larry D. Stephens's book. There is simply not enough information available to write a biography of John P. Gatewood. There are no letters written by him or to him, and none of the men who served with him or under him left journals, letters, or other firsthand accounts. …

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