Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wolk: "FRIEND AND FOE ALIKE: A Tour Guide to Missouri's Civil War"

[Friend and Foe Alike: A Tour Guide to Missouri's Civil War by Gregory Wolk* (Monograph Publishing, 2010).  Softcover, maps, drawings, photos, bibliography, place name index. 262 pages. ISBN:978-0-9799482-6-8  $29.95]

With its broad reach and detailed presentation, Gregory Wolk's Friend and Foe Alike is an ambitious driving tour guide of Civil War Missouri. In it, he's created five long travel loops, each of which generally follows the path of historic roads and, according to the author, takes approximately two days to complete. Loops are further broken down into discrete segments for those visitors unable to devote the full recommended time to a particular region. Additionally, seven "connecting routes" (labeled A through G at the back of the book) offer alternate pathways and, in some cases, connect adjacent loops.

All military focused, the five tours each have several major themes, with some overlap. An example of a campaign with sites present in all tours is the wide ranging 1864 Price Raid.

The following denote the primary events emphasized in each:
Loop 1: St. Louis and SE Missouri - U.S. Grant in Missouri (1861), M. Jeff Thompson's Big River Campaign, John Pope's Island No. 10 Campaign, and the Price Raid.
Loop 2: North Central Missouri - Grant's Missouri command again, Joseph Porter's north Missouri recruiting expedition, Bloody Bill Anderson in Centralia, and the Price Raid.
Loop 3: South Central Missouri - Jo Shelby's "Great Raid", John C. Fremont's 1861 campaign, and the Price Raid.
Loop 4: Region of Kansas City - 1861 Lexington Campaign, Thornton-Thrailkill Raid, and the Price Raid.
Loop 5: Southwest Missouri - Wilson's Creek Campaign, Prairie Grove, Pea Ridge, John S. Marmaduke's 1863 Springfield Raid, and the Price Raid once again.

By following these routes, readers will visit courthouses, cemeteries, battle and skirmish sites, bridges, buildings, museums, towns, and camp sites. Each stop is photographed, with detailed directions (distances are measured in mile tenths) located in the book margins. Numerous informational sidebars, mostly biographical in nature, are also placed there and within the main text.

One of the best features of the book is its heavy emphasis on obscure 1861 events, including material on U.S. Grant's time in Missouri and the war in the much neglected southeastern part of the state. Most readers will be familiar with the Wilson's Creek Campaign, but 1861 saw fighting all over the state, and many of these battles and skirmishes are covered, the Battle of Athens in far NE Missouri being a notable exception.

Some smaller historical maps are present in addition to the modern automobile route tracings, but one wishes the author had created some modern overlay maps for battles with multiple tour stops (e.g. Marshall and Fredericktown) so the reader can better grasp the terrain and troop positions. A more complete index would be helpful to the success of a future edition, too.

Minor complaints aside, this is the best guidebook available examining sites statewide in a single volume. Highlighting both famous and little known events, places, and personalities from Missouri's Civil War history in its thoughtfully constructed road tours, Friend and Foe Alike is an excellent resource for casual tourists and serious students alike.

* - The author has a book blog here.

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