Sunday, March 6, 2011

Battle of Westport

Until Citadel history professor Kyle Sinisi's long delayed 1864 Price Raid book hits the presses sometime in the future, readers interested in publications dealing with the operation's climactic battle at Westport still must rely on the old classics from guys like Howard Monnett and Fred Lee. However, later this month, The History Press's CW Sesquicentennial series will release The Battle of Westport: Missouri's Great Confederate Raid. In all my wide ranging Civil War in Missouri readings, I don't recall coming across the author (Paul Kirkman) before so I have no impression of the quality of his work. It's too early to tell if the book is a battle history -- like the recent Newtonia study from the same publisher -- or a general history of the raid with a few chapters devoted to the battle (the skeptic in me leans toward the latter, but there will probably be a table of contents available soon).  I'll get it anyway as there is so little published on this operation.

[ed. 3/8 - The author himself kindly offered a synopsis of the book via email:
"This book is not meant to supplant Monnett or Lee's take on the battle, but to place the story in the broader context of the place and times in which it happened. The first two chapters focus on the early development of Westport and Kansas City and the brewing battle over expansion of slavery. I wanted the general reader to get a sense of the town and people that would witness the battle (chapter 3 deals with bleeding Kansas and the run up to war) Chapter 4 begins with Price's army moving into Missouri and finishes outside Lexington with Moonlight covering Blunt's retreat. Chapter 5 is on the Battle of the Little Blue and includes recent photographs showing the lay of the land, and the opportunity Rosecrans and Curtis missed there. Chapter 6 covers events on October 22, 1864 at Byram's Ford and Independence. Chapter 7 deals with the main battle on the 23rd, the order of action, a little on the weapons used and their effects, and the units involved. Chapter 8 is about the morning after, Monday morning dawning on fields filled with casualties- more than the population of the entire town, and the two armies marched off to the next battle. Chapter 9 continues the story of the long retreat, battles at Mine Creek, Newtonia, etc. Chapter 10 discusses the long term consequences on the towns of Westport and Kansas City, and the many participants in the battle who were or would become famous or infamous. (Hickok, Cody, Benteen, and over 20 others are presented as examples) The appendix gives a listing of troops involved, including a little more about the types of cannon used and the changes from the revised edition of Monett's book."]

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