Sunday, June 8, 2014

Missouri's Guerrilla War

Over the last two years, my research project has taken me into areas that I never thought I’d be studying in detail. I am editing the diary and other papers of Albert C. Ellithorpe, an officer in the First Indian Home Guards. My previous Civil War research related to the trans-Mississippi Confederacy, so it is an interesting mental shift to go to the “other side,” but my mind has also been stretched as I’ve studied American Indians as well as guerrilla warfare. Both have turned out to be fascinating areas, and I’ve discovered a number of sources that are new to me.

A helpful source has been the four-volume set written over the last ten years by Bruce Nichols, a Defense Department analyst. His Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri details the actions of Southern guerrillas/partisans/bushwhackers in the four geographical (northwest, northeast, southwest, southeast) regions of Missouri. In the process he explores the motivations of these men, tactics, weapons, Union policy changes, and many other topics. Ellithorpe participated in some operations against guerrillas in southwest Missouri, so I’m finding some extremely helpful background information in the Nichols set. The books have piqued my interest so much that I’ve ordered the recently published volumes covering 1864 to the end of the war even though Ellithorpe had left active duty by then.

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