The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It
Author: William Garrett Piston
Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press
In the summer of 1861, Americans were preoccupied by the question of which states would join the secession movement and which would remain loyal to the Union. This question was most fractious in the border states of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. In Mi
The Civil War claimed over 620,000 lives from April 1861 until the last major battle in June 1865. Neighbor fought neighbor, while families were divided over the issues of states' rights, secession, and slavery. Few people realize that Missouri was the war's third most violent state with over 1,500 battles and skirmishes. Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, southwest of Springfield, commemorates the Battle of Wilson's Creek, which was the first Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River, the second major battle of the war, and where the first Union general was killed in combat. The Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Civil War collection is an outstanding compilation of artifacts, documents, and photographs primarily related to the Trans-Mississippi theater. Items include Arkansas Confederate general Patrick Cleburne's sword belt and sash, abolitionist John Brown's telescope, a Confederate "Cherokee Braves" flag, and an original print of General Order No. 11, which forced evacuation of several western Missouri counties in an attempt to eliminate safe havens for guerrillas.
This narrative about Wilson's Creek starts with the backdrop of issues--from abolition to succession--in Missouri preceding the Civil War and continues to cover early war issues, such as the search for the Swamp Fox and Battle of Boonville, before culminating with the Battle of Wilson's Creek and its sub-battle at Bloody Hill.
In early 1861, most Missourians hoped they could remain neutral in the upcoming conflict between North and South. In fact, a popularly elected state convention voted in March of that year that "no adequate cause" existed to compel Missouri to leave the Union. Instead, Missourians saw themselves as ideologically centered between the radical notions of abolition and secession. By that summer, however, the situation had deteriorated dramatically. Because of the actions of politicians and soldiers such as Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson and Union General Nathaniel Lyon, Missourians found themselves forced to take sides. Campaign for Wilson's Creek is a fascinating story of high-stakes military gambles, aggressive leadership, and lost opportunities. It is also a tale of unique military units, untried but determined commanders, colorful volunteers, and professional soldiers. The first major campaign of the Civil War west of the Mississippi River guaranteed that Missourians would be engaged in a long, cruel civil war within the larger, national struggle.
The first phase of the Civil War was fought west of the Mississippi River at least six years before the attack on Fort Sumter. Starting with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, Jay Monaghan traces the development of the conflict between the pro-slavery elements from Missouri and the New England abolitionists who migrated to Kansas. "Bleeding Kansas" provided a preview of the greater national struggle to come. The author allows a new look at Quantrill's sacking of Lawrence, organized bushwhackery, and border battles that cost thousands of lives. Not the least valuable are chapters on the American Indians’ part in the conflict. The record becomes devastatingly clear: the fighting in the West was the cruelest and most useless of the whole affair, and if men of vision had been in Washington in the 1850s it might have been avoided.
His contemporaries called him Wild Bill, and newspapermen and others made him a legend in his own time. Among western characters only General George Armstrong Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody are as readily recognized by the general public. In writing this biography, Joseph G. Rosa has expressed the hope that "Hickok emerges as a man and not a legend." For this comprehensive revision of his earlier biography of Wild Bill the author was allowed to work from newly available materials in the possession of the Hickok family. He also discovered new material pertaining to Wild Bill’s Civil War exploits and his service as a marshal and found the pardon file of his murderer, John McCall. Additional, rare photographs of Wild Bill are published here for the first time. The results of Rosa’s additional research make this second edition the best biography of Wild Bill likely to be written for years to come.