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Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border Hardcover – November 30, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing; 1ST edition (November 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589803299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589803299
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #562,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...Gilmore's book focuses on depredations committed by well as raids by Missourians into Kansas." -- Topeka Capital-Journal

"...none has dissected and disproved the whole dogma, item by item, beginning to end, quite as Gilmore has done." -- Nevada (MO) Daily Mail

"Donald Gilmore's 'Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border' bravely and patiently marshals its evidence ..." -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Gilmore’s new book is a bombshell!" -- Armchair General Magazine, Dr. Jerry Morelock, Ph.D.

From the Inside Flap

"Gilmore's new book is a bombshell! It turns the 'standard textbook' Civil War history of the bloody Missouri-Kansas border war right on its head--and about time, too!" --Armchair General "A captivating account of western life during the violent years prior to and during the Civil War. A thorough, well-researched study of the realities of life during a particularly volatile time." --Military Review "Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border is a riveting glimpse into the calculated ruthlessness of both sides in a vicious, prolonged conflict." --The Midwest Book Review In reexamining many of the long-held historical assumptions about this period, Donald L. Gilmore discusses President Lincoln's utmost desire to keep Missouri in the Union by any and all means. As early as 1858, Kansan and Union troops carried out unbridled confiscation or destruction of Missouri private property, until the state became known as "the burnt region." These outrages escalated to include martial law throughout Missouri and finally the infamous General Orders Number 11 of September 1863 in which Union general Thomas Ewing, Federal commander of the region, ordered the deportation of the entire population of the border counties. It is no wonder that, faced with the loss of their farms and their livelihoods, Missourians struck back with equal force. Jayhawkers and bushwhackers were equally ruthless in this hard-fought "war without quarter." Mr. Gilmore sets the record straight by spotlighting the depredations and atrocities performed by Kansas senator and Union major general James Lane and his men, which are often ignored or underreported in most historical accounts. He also questions the accepted characterization of all bushwhackers as bloodthirsty demons. For example, David Rice Atchison, leader of the so-called Border Ruffians, was in fact a cultured man, a respected Missouri senator, and president pro tem of the United States Senate. Even William Clarke Quantrill, best known for leading the massacre of August 21, 1863, in which 450 Confederate guerrillas descended on Lawrence, Kansas, an abolitionist stronghold, and slaughtered 150 citizens, was not the devil, as he is usually depicted. He was a typical guerrilla chieftain whose violent actions are understandable in their correct context, given the U.S. Army's policy of exterminating his men on sight without trial or capture.

More About the Author

Donald L. Gilmore is the former senior editor of Combat Studies Institute and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Press at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he worked for seventeen years. He is the author of the books Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 2005); Eyewitness Vietnam: Firsthand Accounts from Operation Rolling Thunder to the Fall of Saigon (Sterling Publishing Co., April 2006); U.S. Army Atlas of the European Theater in World War II, editor (New York: Barnes & Noble Publishing, 2004); the novel, Riding Vengeance with the James Gang (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 2009); the articles "Revenge in Kansas, 1863," History Today (London, England, March 1993); "Total War on the Missouri Border," Journal of the West (July 1996), awarded that journal's "Best 'about the West Article' in 1996" (Kansas State University); "Showdown at Northfield"; "When the James Gang Ruled the Rails," Wild West (August 1996 and August 2000); and ten biographical essays in Jerold E. Brown, ed., Historical Dictionary of the U.S. Army (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001). He is also the author of fourteen book reviews in Journal of the West when it was affiliated with Kansas State University. In 1998, Gilmore was a consultant for Universal Studios' Ang Lee motion picture, Ride With the Devil, the subject of which was the Border War. He is a frequent speaker to local Civil War Round Tables, historical societies, and a wide variety of other groups, including Marine Corps officers of Mobilization Command, Grandview, Missouri, and the Delaware Crossing SAR chapter. Gilmore has MA and BA degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he was a lecturer (1981). He also has taught at Longview Community College, Lee's Summit, Missouri (1980-1984), and Avila University (2004). He received the Department of the Army Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, 2001, and Commander's Award for Civilian Service for exceptional performance, 1997. Gilmore is a U.S. Army veteran of Signal Company USARAL (United States Army Alaska), 1957-1959, and a one-year member of the "brown-shoe" army,and then the "black-shoe" army.

Customer Reviews

Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border is an important new book and is highly recommended.
Jerry D. Morelock
Undoubtedly many accounts are biased, but adding another biased account does not set the record straight.
W. Meyer
The Author does an outstanding job of debunking myth and lies with good old fashioned scholarly research.
Terry Tucker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jerry D. Morelock on January 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Meticulously researched and cogently written, Gilmore's bombshell book breaks new ground in describing what really happened during the brutal guerrilla war fought in America's heartland from 1854 to 1865. Finally, a dedicated historian of the fraticidal conflict in Missouri and Kansas steps forward with the courage to tell the unvarnished truth and with the scholarship to back it up.

For generations, the depredations of Confederate guerrillas such as William Clarke Quantrill, Frank and Jesse James, Cole Younger and "Bloody Bill" Anderson have been touted as the epitome of heartlessly cruel barbarians masquerading as soldiers. But what about the Union men whose equally barbaric brutality from the war's outset sparked the guerrillas' savage response? Gilmore documents the war crimes on both sides. He reveals the murderous actions of Union men such as Crazy Jim Lane, a US Senator from the new state of Kansas who led an army of thieves and killers on a bloody rampage of looting and killing in western Missouri in 1861, then furnished his Lawrence, Kansas, home with the stolen property; Colonel Charles Jennison, a psychopathic dwarf whose Kansas "Red Legs" periodically left the safety of their Lawrence refuge to indiscriminately murder and rob both pro- and anti-slavery Missourians; and, perhaps the conflict's most successful war criminal, Union Gen. Thomas Ewing, promulgator of the infamous General Orders Number 11, an atrocity that disposssed 20,000 civilians, left five Missouri counties in desolate ruin and probably killed hundreds of innocents (Ewing let the brutal "Red Legs" inforce the order's execution). Ewing practiced "Ethinic Cleansing" 130 years before it made world headlines in the 1990's Balkan conflict.
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36 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Spurgeon on June 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Donald Gilmore explains that he has set out to set the record straight on the Kansas-Missouri conflict before and during the Civil War. Obviously unimpressed with popular notions of Missouri guerillas, he undertakes a crusade to revise the history of this brutal era. The result is on one hand an interesting, and even refreshing, look at the border conflict and the infamous people involved. On the other hand, the book suffers from an all-too-common problem among many revisionist histories -- obvious bias, only directed the other way.

Gilmore criticizes previous historians, and rightfully so, for misrepresenting or simplifying the lives, interests, and actions of Missouri guerillas. The author provides some excellent descriptions of guerilla tactical and psychological development. Perhaps the books strongest section is in the chapter entitled "The Guerillas' Identity, Extermination & Trauma." The last few pages of this chapter provide a brief but excellent analysis of psychological trauma in warfare.

But the author too often shows himself guilty of the same faults mentioned above when discussing Kansas militiamen and soldiers. Subtle, snide comments about important Kansas figures, precisely the kind of comments Gilmore chastises previous historians for making about Missouri leaders, are sprinkled throughout the work.

Much of his bias is flagrant. For instance, Quantrill's raid on Lawrence, Kansas--which resulted in the killing of around 150 men and boys, mostly unarmed--is portrayed as an understandable (almost justifiable) action given the looting and raiding of Missouri towns and homes by Kansas Jayhawkers.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Osaggie on January 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Trust me, they didn't teach this stuff in Kansas History when I was growing up there. I had no idea how appropriate it is that the school mascot of Kansas University in Lawrence, KS is a Jayhawk. Wow. This book is the result of clarifying research about the guerilla warfare in Kansas and Missouri Border Wars over the question of the expansion of slavery in the U.S. territories and states. Here's a tidbit: did you know that Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickock were members of a group of anti-slavery marauders called the Red Legs, formed later than the Jayhawkers, who were the Kansas Seventh Volunteer Cavalry? Cody "admitted that as one of the Red Legs...we were the biggest gang of thieves on record." And thieving was the least of it when it came the actions of all the rival groups of outlaws, pro- and anti-slavery, fattening themselves on the fearsome civil unrest. All the guerilla actions, infamous and not so, as here in details. If your subject it war and the depredations humans enact against other humans, then this book is for you. What a story.
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27 of 40 people found the following review helpful By LtCol ret E. Kennedy, Jr. on July 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tremendous historical analysis. Patrick Brophy, Vernon County Historical Society's newsletter editor, says in the Nevada, Missouri, Daily Mail:

"A few writers, over the years, have nibbled around the theme's edges [the Border War], timidly questioning those articles of politically correct faith; but none has dissected and disproved the whole dogma, item by item, beginning to end, quite as Gilmore has done."

Don Gilmore successfully breaks the old stereotypes that the victor's histories established over the past 140 years. The descendent of several Union soldiers and an Army veteran himself, Gilmore provides an analysis of the border "wars" between Missouri and Kansas that is backed by substantive facts; fresh, primary source documentation; and extensive knowledge gleaned from years of living in the middle of the border-wars area of operations. Gilmore bucks the "traditional" representation of the contestants by clearly demonstrating that the "war" between the Missourians and Kansans was much more complex than the "Kansans good", "Missourians bad" stereotypes that have been carefully cultivated by pro-Northern biased historians. So many of the atrocities committed by the Red Legs and Jayhawkers have been conveniently over-looked throughout the years. The reaction by Missourians fighting back against cruel depredations is somehow rationalized away by pro-Northern historians seeking to make the Missourians the villains in order to justify the illegal actions of the US Army against American citizens. Gilmore, a technical advisor for the Lee Ang film, "Ride With The Devil", goes into depth and context rarely covered by other historians of the border wars.
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