Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Booknotes: Bloody Engagements

New Arrival:
Bloody Engagements: John R. Kelso’s Civil War
by John R. Kelso, edited by Christopher Grasso (Yale UP, 2017).

This new book has some thematic similarities with Monday's Booknotes title. Missouri's John Russell Kelso experienced both regular and irregular aspects of Civil War service, first as a Missouri volunteer infantry private then later as a scout and cavalry officer fighting guerrillas and various Ozark outlaws.

In Bloody Engagements, Christopher Grasso edits the wartime sections of Kelso's unpublished autobiography, as well as two post-war political speeches. From the introduction, we learn that the original manuscript was lost after Kelso's death in 1891, and what survives is a copy of the autobiographical account up to 1863 (presumably, this is the document that resides in the Huntington Library). So the book covers secession, the beginning of the war in Missouri, the fighting at Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, Forsyth, and Springfield, and many other incidents and events from the war.

Grasso contributes a lengthy introduction to the volume, explanatory footnotes, a timeline of Kelso's life, an index, and also arranged for a trio of nice maps. If you have an interest in the Civil War in the Ozarks, this looks like a good one to add to the home library.

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