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Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2006

    The Civil War's Dark Side: Neither Side Had a Monopoly on Terror

    Meticulously researched and cogently written, Gilmore's bombshell book breaks new ground in describing what really happened during the brutal guerrilla war fought in America's heartland from 1854 to 1865. Finally, a dedicated historian of the fraticidal conflict in Missouri and Kansas steps forward with the courage to tell the unvarnished truth and with the scholarship to back it up. For generations, the depredations of Confederate guerrillas such as William Clarke Quantrill, Frank and Jesse James, Cole Younger and 'Bloody Bill' Anderson have been touted as the epitome of heartlessly cruel barbarians masquerading as soldiers. But what about the Union men whose equally barbaric brutality from the war's outset sparked the guerrillas' savage response? Gilmore documents the war crimes on both sides. He reveals the murderous actions of Union men such as Crazy Jim Lane, a US Senator from the new state of Kansas who led an army of thieves and killers on a bloody rampage of looting and killing in western Missouri in 1861, then furnished his Lawrence, Kansas, home with the stolen property Colonel Charles Jennison, a psychopathic dwarf whose Kansas 'Red Legs' periodically left the safety of their Lawrence refuge to indiscriminately murder and rob both pro- and anti-slavery Missourians and, perhaps the conflict's most successful war criminal, Union Gen. Thomas Ewing, promulgator of the infamous General Orders Number 11, an atrocity that dispossed 20,000 civilians, left five Missouri counties in desolate ruin and probably killed hundreds of innocents (Ewing let the brutal 'Red Legs' enforce the order's execution). Ewing practiced 'Ethinic Cleansing' 130 years before it made world headlines in the 1990's Balkan conflict. Moreove, Gilmore's book documents Ewing's illegal imprisoning of civilians, murdering of prisoners and summary executions. Gilmore shows that neither side had a monopoly on terror. Undoubtedly, those who have not yet heard the uncomfortable truth about Union atrocities during the bloody guerrilla war in Missouri and Kansas will be troubled to learn in Gilmore's book that Union men could be just as ruthless as the Confederate guerrillas. Predictably, some will 'shoot the messenger', unfairly pilloring Gilmore for telling the harsh truth. Yet, Gilmore is certainly no 'neo-Confederate' apologist, nor is this descendant of Union soldiers attempting to justify the ruthless actions of the Confederate guerrillas. Gilmore is a historian who is performing a valuable service by putting that brutal conflict within the framework of the era in which it occurred and very properly documenting the depredations committed by the Union side as well as the guerrilla side. It is a story that needs to be told and has for too long been merely a 'dirty little secret,' conveniently swept under the historical carpet. Instead of being condemned, Gilmore should be applauded for having the courage to step forward with the true story. Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border is an important new book and is highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2005

    Outstanding Border War Historical Interpretation

    In this absolutely superb book, the manuscript of which I was fortunate enough to preview for the author, Don Gilmore shatters the old stereotypes that the victor's histories of the Border War between Kansas and Missouri (1854-1865) have established over the past 140 years. Gilmore, the descendent of Union soldiers and an Army veteran himself, provides an analysis of the Border War that is intensively and accurately researched replete with fresh, primary source documentation and incorporates his own extensive knowledge gleaned from his years of living in the middle of the Border War area of operations. Gilmore bucks the traditional representation of the contestants by clearly demonstrating that the war between the Missourians and Kansans was much more complex than the 'Kansans were good', the 'Missourians were bad' stereotypes that have been carefully cultivated by pro-Northern-biased historians. So many of the atrocities committed by the Red Legs and Jayhawkers have been conveniently over-looked throughout the years. At the same time, the reaction by the Missourians who fought back against these cruel depredations have somehow been rationalized away by historians who have sought to make the Missourians the villains, thereby justifying the illegal actions of the US Army against our own American citizens. The author, a technical advisor for the Ang Lee film, 'Ride With The Devil,' provides a thorough, in-depth analysis of the Border War that explains the war¿s political and ideological context, something virtually never attempted with success by other historians of the war. Too often in the past, the historical facts have been twisted to satisfy the political and ideological biases of individual historians or commentators. For example, the portrayal of a black Confederate guerilla in the film 'Ride With The Devil,' was enough to cause the NAACP to censor the dust jacket of the book version of the movie to prevent the black guerrilla 'Holt' (based on the real Border War character, John Noland, a black Confederate guerilla) from being shown on the book¿s front. This was just too accurate a version of real history for them to handle and did not conveniently fit their preferred stereotype. The fact that there were many pro-Confederate blacks, thousands serving with the Confederate Army, as Gilmore cites in his book, is a politically incorrect insight, even though it is backed by extensive research by a black historian, Dr. Edward C. Smith, American University. Those with closed minds may automatically dismiss Gilmore¿s book out-of-hand without consideration of the evidence because of his failure to be politically correct. These people¿s minds are made up, the facts be damned. But those interested in a real Border War history will be enlightened by Gilmore¿s comprehensive study. For military scholars and diplomats, Gilmore¿s book is an excellent study on how not to behave in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the Army of today forbids the conduct it expressly sanctioned 145 years ago. Our conduct today is intended to prevent the alienation of the population it fights to protect. At the Army¿s Command and General Staff College, we now emphasize the application of power in a completely different manner so as not to turn the civilian populace over to the insurgents¿ sides. In 1860, this doctrine didn¿t exist even though the civil laws, military regulations and codes did. The U.S. Lieber Codes of 1863 expressly forbade the actions taken by the U.S. Army that successfully turned thousands of Missourians against the government. The incorporation of Red Leg and Jayhawkers into Kansas cavalry units in 1861 and onward did not mitigate against their crimes and behavior while they were under the official auspices of the U.S. gove

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2011

    GET A COPY....NOW!

    This is an exciting and truthful book from cover to cover. It is not a rewrite of history, its new, well researched history about the war on the Kansas/Missouri border. Will Mr. Gilmore's book change the way we will now look at the history of the Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border? You bet. His writing is excellent, and his facts are firm. I would highly recommend a copy of this book be placed in every school, and personal library.

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