Sunday, June 5, 2011

"Cavaliers of the Brush: Quantrill and His Men"

Cavaliers of the BrushCavaliers of the Brush: Quantrill and His Men (The Camp Pope Bookshop, 2003) is the fifth volume of the Michael Banasik edited series Unwritten Chapters of the Civil War West of the River. The title refers to the attitude displayed toward Quantrill's men in a series of Houston newspaper articles penned by an unknown correspondent with the pen name "Wau-Cas-Sie". The letters, which are obviously based in part on interviews, provide personal portraits of prominent guerrillas as well as fairly detailed descriptions of high profile events such as the fighting at the Tate Farm, Independence, Lawrence, Baxter Springs, and Centralia. There is no pretense of objectivity in these over-the-top glorifications of the men and their actions, but editor Michael Banasik does point out in his extensive footnotes that many of the central facts presented by Wau-Cas-Sie are supported by outside source materials from both sides. According to the editor, Confederate sources dealing directly with the Missouri guerrillas are uncommon, so these pieces comprise rare insight into Confederate views of Quantrill and his men. Banasik's notes are also extremely helpful in fleshing out more information about persons, places, and events mentioned in the text.

Detailed maps were included [in this case, a general overview map, and more close up views of the Lawrence Raid movements and the fighting at Baxter Springs and Centralia], and, as with other volumes in the series, the appendices offer a great deal of useful supplemental material. The usual biographical sketches are present in this section, as well as a roster of Quantrill's company, an accounting of the men present at various events, a list of the Lawrence dead, and a large collection of official reports and correspondence. Cavaliers of the Brush is a very worthwhile collection of source and reference material for Quantrill's guerrillas.

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