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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Books For Bushwhacker Days

Thursday, June 14, 2007

By all means, include a little pertinent reading in your observance of Bushwhacker Days 2007. There's no shortage of really good, new titles.

The following are, or will be, purchasable from the Bushwhacker Museum, 212 W. Walnut, or from booksellers.

"The Border between Them: Violence and Recoiliation on the Kansas-Missouri Line" by Jeremy Neely (a Vernon County resident). Univ. of Mo. Press, 2007. Originally a documentary dissertation, heavy on graphs and notes, this comprehensive work has been brightened for the general reader. The author's massive research in rooting out the story of our area from settlement days to the present speaks for itself. Hardbound, 328 pages. $39.95.

"Haunted Ozark Battlefields: Civil War Ghost Stories and Brief Battle Histories," by Steve Cottrell. Two Trails Publishing, 2007. The title well sums up this new book by the author of several other regional histories. A chapter deals with each major battle in the four-state area, with a ghost story for each! Recommended for beginners. Softbound, 113 pages. $12.95.

"Other Noted Guerrillas of the Civil War in Missouri," by Larry Wood. Hickory Press, 2007. Takes up where John N. Edwards's 1877 Noted Guerrillas left off. The first chapters are devoted to familiar area figures William Marchbanks, Henry Taylor, and Tom Livingston, others to western Missouri Bushwhackers less well-known. Softbound, 302 pages. $19.95.

"The Life, Times, and Treacherous Death of Jesse James," by Frank Triplett. New reprint of a classic, written just after Jesse's death, based on interviews with his wife and mother, and so the only source of much controversial info. Hardbound, 344 pages, illustrated. $19.95.

"Where the Civil War Began: Missouri Prior to and through 1861," by John Bradbury and James Denny. Univ. of Mo. Press, 2007. Still back-ordered, this work promises well, dealing with early Civil War events along the Kansas Border. Denny is well-known to us as the man in charge of the state's Civil War plaque program. Softbound. $29.95.

"Frank Blair: Lincoln's Conservative," by William E. Parrish. Univ. of Mo. Press, 1998. Our acquiring this title coincided with a Nevada Daily Mail piece on the man by Carolyn Thornton. Space didn't let Carolyn note Blair's Nevada links. The late Robert Crawford, sometime Missouri secretary of state, used to say he told people he was "an alumnus of the Francis P. Blair Preparatory School," i.e. Nevada's former Blair School, at Pine and Maple, now memorialized as Blair Park. As with Walton Park, alas, Blair has shed its namesake's first name. Not long ago a local student wrote that it was named after Col. Charles W. Blair, the Federal commandant at Ft. Scott during the Civil War! Francis Preston Blair? Say who? Lynn Ewing III confesses he doesn't know the exact connection, but modern Missouri Gov. James T. Blair was his great-uncle, his sister having married Lynn M. Ewing Sr. And it's fact that those Blairs came of the famous line of Preston, Montgomery, and Francis Blair.

Frank was never one of this reviewer's favorite people. In 1861 he enabled the fanatical Nathaniel Lyon to clamp Federal tyranny on Missouri by (illegally) enrolling St. Louis Germans. His old-line Democratic family opportunely turned Republican to get in on the patronage gravy. Lacking all military training he was commissioned a major general. The high point of his rather mediocre war service was helping Sherman "make Georgia howl." Still, Blair deserves a nod for bitterly opposing the outrages of Radical Republican rule in Missouri after the war. He believed Reconstruction civil rights laws unconstitutional, and hoped freed slaves could be colonized overseas. The Blairs again opportunely flipflopped back to being (and have remained ever since) staunch Democrats. Hardbound, 318 pages. $39.95.

"Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian," by Hans L. Trefousse. Stackpole Books, 2001. Frank Blair, though less than a favorite, comes off a sterling character alongside the odious Mr. Stevens, leader (virtually dictator) of the Radical Republicans. Granted he has his dogged admirers still, those many folks newly bemused with the "egalitarian" notions of the title; but the qualification that inevitably occurs to this reviewer is "that old s.o.b." 2 Never rising above the rank of congressman from Pennsylvania, Stevens nevertheless utterly dominated his colleagues in Congress and out. Like another Radical, Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, he was a grim, abrasive person who, deep down, "hated everybody." At the top of his hate list were slave holders and, by extension, all Southerners. He opposed Lincoln's generous policies toward the defeated Confederates, and to the last fought to keep the conquered South under harsh military rule, with political power given to the freed slaves and whites disfranchised, despoiled of their property, and even driven out of the country. Meantime, Stevens was ensconced in the arms of his mulatto "housekeeper." Softbound, 312 pages. $24.95.

"The Civil War in Missouri: Essays from the Missouri Historical Review, 1906-2006."

Anticipating the 2011 Civil War Sesquicentennial (125th anniversary), the MHR has reprinted the best Civil War essays to appear in its 100-year history. Softbound, illustrated. $25.

"Border Warfare in Southeastern Kansas 1856-1859," by G. Murlin Welch. Linn County (Kan.) Historical Society. A valuable work on the Border Wars right in our own backyard, newly reprinted. Confessing himself a "Jayhawker," Welch nonetheless produced a balanced account, and made an incontrovertible case that the quarrel had far more to do with grubby squabbles over land claims and personal vendettas than with idealistic antislavery crusading. Good insights into Vernon County's Denton-Hardwick feud. Softbound, 172 pages. $12.95.