A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War


A Savage Conflict is the first work to treat guerrilla warfare as critical to understanding the course and outcome of the Civil War. Daniel Sutherland argues that irregular warfare took a large toll on the Confederate war effort by weakening support for state and national governments and diminishing the trust citizens had in their officials to protect them.

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A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War

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A Savage Conflict is the first work to treat guerrilla warfare as critical to understanding the course and outcome of the Civil War. Daniel Sutherland argues that irregular warfare took a large toll on the Confederate war effort by weakening support for state and national governments and diminishing the trust citizens had in their officials to protect them.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Sutherland offers a near encyclopedic survey of Confederate use of guerilla tactics and of Union efforts to combat them. . . . [His book] powerfully underscore[s] the ugliness and moral complexity of the uncivil war that divided Americans between 1861 and 1865.--American Historical Review

Sutherland largely eschews the salacious rendering of individual acts of violence, choosing rather to bring sense and order to a tumultuous chapter of Civil War historiography.--North Carolina Historical Review

A welcome addition to the literature on guerilla warfare in America.--Intelligence Service Europe Newsletter

An impressive new study of the impact of guerrilla warfare on the course of the American Civil War.--Indiana Magazine of History

The most comprehensive analysis of Civil War guerrilla warfare to date. . . . Intriguing. . . . Will surely captivate general readers and seasoned academics alike, as well as undergraduate and graduate students.--West Virginia History

A book no serious student of the Civil War can do without.--Arkansas Historical Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781469606880
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2013
  • Series: Civil War America Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 456
  • Sales rank: 293,790
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel E. Sutherland is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Arkansas. He is author or editor of thirteen books, including Guerrillas, Unionists, and Violence on the Confederate Home Front.
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Table of Contents

Prologue: Baltimore 1

Pt. I Beginnings (Spring-Summer 1861)

1 A People's War 9

2 A Border War 26

3 A Delayed War 41

Pt. II Rules of the Game (Fall 1861-Summer 1862)

4 Stringent Orders 57

5 Sanctioning Barbarity 76

6 Not the West Point Way 99

Pt. III Democracy Run Amok (Fall 1862-Summer 1863)

7 Communities of Bitter Memories 121

8 In Bad Repute 145

9 Some Definite Policy 171

Pt. IV Day of the Outlaw (Fall 1863-1864)

10 So Tired of War 193

11 A Terror to the Citizens 220

12 One Vast Missouri 246

Epilogue: 1865 267

Notes 281

Bibliography 357

Index 421

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    view of the war that is seldom seen

    John Mosby, William Quantrill and Bloody Bill Anderson encompass most of our knowledge about guerrillas. The sack of Lawrence and understanding Missouri had a very active guerrilla war completes the picture. If you read a lot of Civil War history, you can discuss the problems caused by deserters and the battles between Unionists and Confederates in the CSA. Pushed, you might talk about guerrillas firing on shipping in the Mississippi River. Really pushed, you might mention North Carolina and/or East Tennessee as "hot spots" of guerrilla activity. After that, we have gone through our knowledge on the subject. After reading this book, you will be able to talk intelligently about this subject across the nation for the entire war.
    For one book to pack so much information, be readable and have good historic sources is an accomplishment. This book manages to exceed all expectations by providing a summary with the right level of detail, in an intelligent readable format. The history hangs on a frame covering six to twelve month periods of the war in chronological order. Each part follows the development of the guerrilla war with a section of the nation during this period. The major sections are Kansas/Missouri/Arkansas, Kentucky/Tennessee, West Virginia/Virginia, Mississippi/Alabama and the Carolinas. Texas, Florida and Louisiana appear when they have something to contribute. The author adds sections, as they become part of the story. In Spring-Summer 1861, Kansas/Missouri/Arkansas, Kentucky/Tennessee, West Virginia/Virginia are the major story. This includes problems of guerrillas spilling into Iowa & Illinois from Missouri and into Ohio from Kentucky. As the war progresses, areas are added. By 1864, the entire South is aflame; the problems have escalated into endless theft and murder that has destroyed law in much of the Confederacy.
    This is not just a history of military operations. The author details the Confederacy's early view of "partisan rangers" and the appeal of this service to individuals. From this foundation, we get a solid history of the CSA military and legal actions to establish and control these units. At the same time, the USA struggles to establish polices to deal with guerrillas, maintain the goodwill of the people and protect supply lines. Throw into this mix advancing armies, ill will, avarice and revenge for a witches brew creating endless problems. While logical and almost inevitable this is not a pretty story. As the CSA changes positions and loses territory the guerrilla bands change. Less control creates more foraging, more deserters and internal warfare. This changes the local people's attitudes. Union frustration and a hardening of reprisal policies add to their misery.
    This is a comprehensive survey, well written and very readable. A full set of real footnotes, with a good mix of original and contemporary sources, appear as endnotes. These endnotes have page references, at the bottom of the page, making it easy to find the footnote you are looking for. An index, Bibliography, good regional maps and illustrations from Harpers complete this excellent book. This is a valuable addition to your library. While not covering the major armies or battles, this is a needed view of the war that is seldom seen.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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