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The Ghosts of Guerrilla Memory

The Ghosts of Guerrilla Memory: How Civil War Bushwhackers Became Gunslingers in the American West

Series: UnCivil Wars
Copyright Date: 2016
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    The Ghosts of Guerrilla Memory
    Book Description:

    The Civil War tends to be remembered as a vast sequence of battles, with a turning point at Gettysburg and a culmination at Appomattox. But in the guerrilla theater, the conflict was a vast sequence of home invasions, local traumas, and social degeneration that did not necessarily end in 1865. This book chronicles the history of "guerrilla memory," the collision of the Civil War memory "industry" with the somber realities of irregular warfare in the borderlands of Missouri and Kansas.

    In the first accounting of its kind, Matthew Christopher Hulbert's book analyzes the cultural politics behind how Americans have remembered, misremembered, and re-remembered guerrilla warfare in political rhetoric, historical scholarship, literature, and film and at reunions and on the stage. By probing how memories of the guerrilla war were intentionally designed, created, silenced, updated, and even destroyed, Hulbert ultimately reveals a continent-wide story in which Confederate bushwhackers-pariahs of the eastern struggle over slavery-were transformed into the vanguards of American imperialism in the West.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-5000-4
    Subjects: History, Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION. The Borderlands of Memory (pp. 1-14)

    In 1884Century Magazineheralded its coming series, “Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.” The assortment of personal recollections, historical treatments, and battlefield analytics promised to be a thorough, scholarly, and objective accounting of all things Civil War. Perhaps most important, the contributors to the series included the era’s heaviest hitters: P. G. T. Beauregard, John Bell Hood, George McClellan, Oliver Otis Howard, Ulysses S. Grant, and even the much embattled James Longstreet. Through the minds and pens of these men, virtually every state that had seen significant action in the national bloodletting was to receive serious attention.


  5. ONE The Nastiest Bits (pp. 15-42)

    Late in the summer of 1862, G. W. Ballow offered his thoughts on the untamed nature of war in Missouri. “I am happy to state,” he informed a friend, “that guerrilla warfare is rapidly playing out in all parts of Missouri.”¹ Ballow, as it turned out, was not much of a clairvoyant; the sky still represented the virtual limit for irregular activity in Missouri. Even the massacres at Lawrence (1863) and Centralia (1864)—easily the best-known incidents of the Missouri-Kansas guerrilla conflict and arguably of the entire Civil War—only constituted drops in a deluge of violence that left both...

  6. TWO An Irregular Lost Cause (pp. 43-62)

    Of pro-Confederate guerrillas in the Missouri-Kansas borderlands, pugnacious newspaperman-turned-author John Newman Edwards had this to say:

    He saw that he was hunted and proscribed; that he had neither a flag nor a government; that the rights and amenities of civilized warfare were not to be his; that a dog’s death was certain if he surrendered even in the extremest agony of battle; that the house which sheltered him had to be burnt; the father who succored him had to be butchered; the mother who prayed for him had to be insulted; the sister who carried food to him had to...

  7. THREE Rebooting Guerrilla Memory (pp. 63-86)

    In 1870 the notorious bushwhacker Samuel Hildebrand published his personal chronicle of the guerrilla theater.The Life of Samuel Hildebrand, which is generally believed to have been the first such guerrilla memoir, presented readers with bloody tales of enemies slain, vendettas fulfilled, and terror unleashed in the Ozarks of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. Gritty and vainglorious, the book was undoubtedly an attempt by Hildebrand to line his pockets. But the account, composed with the help of an editor (Hildebrand himself likely was not literate), is also an important bellwether in our discussion of guerrilla memory because it made no...

  8. FOUR Getting the Band Back Together (pp. 87-117)

    On May 12, 1888, the Saturday edition of theKansas City Journalreported that a “small but select gathering,” the likes of which “had not been seen since the days when civil war reigned,” had assembled in the neighboring town of Blue Springs, Missouri. For many residents of Blue Springs, the occasion that prompted the meeting must have been as novel as the characters it attracted: Mrs. Caroline C. Quantrill, mother of the famed guerrilla commander with whom she shared a surname, had trekked all the way from her native Ohio to hold court.

    Several of William C. Quantrill’s former...

  9. FIVE The Gatekeepers’ Conundrum (pp. 118-139)

    From the vantage of Martha F. Horne, life in the borderlands had been good before the outbreak of civil war. As late as 1861 she shared a sizable and fertile plot of land with her husband, Richard, in Cass County, Missouri, just fifteen miles from the Kansas line. There the Hornes prospered as farmers and, as an indication of their good fortune, owned twelve slaves—a diversified assemblage of men and women, adults and children. But by February 1862 the good times were swiftly drawing to a close; idyllic memories of Horne’s antebellum life culminated in the arrival of men...

  10. SIX The Unionists Strike Back (pp. 140-181)

    The Sunday following Quantrill’s infamous 1863 raid on Lawrence, Kansas, “had been a trying one to the people of Lawrence,” noted Isadora Allison in an account written several years later. Not surprisingly—it was August, after all—the weather was exceedingly hot. “But,” she added, the “heat had been increased by the fires which still smoldered from the burned buildings all over the town.” In this postapocalyptic cityscape, “the odor of fire and smoke filled the air” as Reverend Richard Cordley conducted a mass funeral service at the Congregational church for those killed two days earlier.¹

    “Weeping friends, widows and...

  11. SEVEN Guerrillas Gone Wild in the West (pp. 182-210)

    On the night of July 14, 1881, a man stumbled through the moonlit streets of Fort Sumner, New Mexico, toward the home of the Maxwell family. On entering the house, which he found pitch black, the slightest hints of motion caught his eye. Someone or something, it seemed, was skulking in the shadows. Now alarmed and brandishing a revolver, he called out nervously: “Quien es?” The answer to his question (“Who’s there?”) came as a sudden burst of light and a thud—the muzzle flare and subsequent impact of a .44-caliber bullet plowing deep into his chest. At just twenty-one...

  12. EIGHT Black Flags and Silver Screens (pp. 211-247)

    A single scene fromBandolero—a 1968 film starring Jimmy Stewart, Dean Martin, and Raquel Welch—offers an appropriate point of origin to begin exploring the complicated relationship between guerrilla warfare, Civil War memory, and motion pictures in the twentieth century. At this particular moment in the film, Stewart and Martin, who depict a pair of brothers, are attempting to explain why they had ended up on opposite sides during the Civil War. Martin, whose character had favored the Confederacy, complains that his mother never understood or accepted his decision to ride with Quantrill. For his part, Stewart’s character had...

  13. EPILOGUE. Notes from the [Disappearing] Guerrilla Theater (pp. 248-264)

    In a recent interview with the Civil War Trust, award-winning historian Gary Gallagher was asked to discuss noteworthy developments in the field of Civil War scholarship. Before long, the conversation turned to where irregular violence fits within the broader calculus of how we can and, more importantly, should interpret the conflict. Gallagher began by stating that “a lot of attention, I think, is on the margins now,” before surmising, “the argument that ‘guerrilla war is the best way to understand the war’ is another example of this phenomenon.” “Well, it’s the best way to understand the war if you don’t...

  16. NOTES (pp. 267-294)
  17. BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 295-320)
  18. INDEX (pp. 321-328)
  19. Back Matter (pp. 329-329)