Lately I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading about guerrilla warfare in Missouri and Arkansas. Since the 1980s there has been quite a bit of scholarly interest in the topic although there are certainly a number of avenues deserving more attention. Daniel E. Sutherland’s book, A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role Of Guerrillas In The American Civil War (2009) is a “big picture” study, helpful for understanding the overall dynamics and the importance of guerrilla warfare.(For more about this important book see my March 25, 2010 posting). Although some of the same material is covered in his book, Sutherland’s essay “Guerrillas: The Real War In Arkansas” in Civil War Arkansas: Beyond Battles and Leaders is a good overview. Sutherland argues in the essay that the guerrilla war in Arkansas was “Not a war within a war, as some historians have suggested, not even a second war, but the war” (p. 133).
Michael Fellman’s, Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict In Missouri During The American Civil War (1988) is an in-depth study of the official policy of both sides, the plight of civilians, Union soldiers and their response to guerrillas, the impact of guerrilla war on women, and the postwar. Fellman tackled many other topics as well in this thoughtful book; I found it helpful to read it twice.
Take the books and the article above and couple them with Bruce Nichols’ books, and you’ll have a greater understanding of guerrilla warfare in the trans-Mississippi.