Bloody Engagements: John R. Kelso's Civil War

Bloody Engagements: John R. Kelso's Civil War


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The first edited edition of a Union soldier’s remarkable memoir, offering a rare perspective on guerrilla warfare and on the larger meanings of the Civil War

While tales of Confederate guerilla-outlaws abound, there are few scholarly accounts of the Union men who battled them. This edition of John R. Kelso’s Civil War memoir presents a firsthand account of an ordinary man’s extraordinary battlefield experiences along with his evolving interpretation of what the bloody struggle meant.
A former Methodist preacher and Missouri schoolteacher, Kelso served as a Union Army foot soldier, cavalry officer, guerilla fighter, and spy. Initially shaped by a belief in the Founding Fathers’ republic and a disdain for the slave-holding aristocracy, Kelso became driven by revenge after pro-Southern neighbors stole his property, burned down his house, and drove his family and friends from their homes. Interweaving Kelso’s compelling voice with historian Christopher Grasso’s insightful commentary, this fascinating work charts the transformation of an everyday citizen into a man the Union hailed as a hero and Confederate sympathizers called a monster.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300210965
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 04/11/2017
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

John R. Kelso (1831–1891) was a Missouri schoolteacher who served as a Union Army foot soldier, cavalry officer, and spy. Christopher Grasso is a professor of history at the College of William and Mary.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xi

1 Secession and War: April to July 1861 1

2 The Battle of Wilson's Creek and the First Spy Mission: August to September 1861 17

3 Big River and Scouting the Southwest Corner: August to September 1861 32

4 Federals in Retreat, Refugees in the Snow, and Vengeance in Buffalo: October 1861 to February 1862 44

5 The March to Pea Ridge: February 1862 67

6 Scouting, Recruiting, and the Cavalry: February to May 1862 83

7 A Defeat and a Victory: May to July 1862 99

8 The Battle of Forsyth, and a Raid on Thieves and Cut-Throats: July to August 1862 117

9 A Plundering Expedition: September to October 1862 130

10 Fighting Rebels in Arkansas: October to November 1862 138

11 Capturing and Destroying: November to December 1862 145

12 The Battle of Springfield: January 1863 156

Appendix 1 Speech Delivered at Mt. Vernon, Missouri, April 23, 1864 179

Appendix 2 Speech Delivered at Walnut Grove, Missouri, September 19, 1865 (Excerpts) 189

Appendix 3 Government Analysed, 1892 (Excerpts) 203

Chronology 209

Index 217

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