Sunday, December 6, 2015

Beilein's Bushwhackers

The Civil War Guerrilla: Unfolding the Black Flag in History, Memory, and Myth was one of the better essay anthologies published this year and was also the first time I'd directly come across the work of emerging scholar Joseph Beilein, who co-edited the volume with Matthew Hulbert. Beilein's next project is Bushwhackers: Guerrilla Warfare, Manhood, and the Household in Civil War Missouri (Kent St Univ Pr, Summer 2016). In it, he "looks at the ways in which several different bands of guerrillas across Missouri conducted their war in concert with their households and their female kin who provided logistical support in many forms. Whether noted fighters like Frank James, William Clarke Quantrill, and Bloody Bill Anderson, or less well-known figures such as Clifton Holtzclaw and Jim Jackson, Beilein provides a close examination of how these warriors imagined themselves as fighters, offering a brand-new interpretation that gets us closer to seeing how the men and women who participated in the war in Missouri must have understood it." Much has been written on that particular topic so it will be interesting to see what this new interpretation might be.  The book "demonstrates that the guerrilla war in Missouri was not just an opportunity to settle antebellum feuds, nor was it some collective plummet by society into a state of chaotic bloodshed [yet another counterargument to Fellman's influential thesis]. Rather, the guerrilla war was the only logical response by men and women in Missouri, and one that was more in keeping with their worldview than the conventional warfare of the day."

It also appears to be the first volume in the new The Civil War Era in the South series (Brian Craig Miller and LeeAnn Whites, Editors):
"This series offers readers the latest cutting-edge scholarship on the southern experience during the American Civil War era. While the series will focus exclusively on the South in its totality (upper, lower, and border South), books published will offer a wide range of historical topics, including politics, military campaigns, the experience of the common soldier, the hardships on the home front, and the dynamics of race, gender, and class within southern society."

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