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Confederate Outlaw: Champ Ferguson and the Civil War in Appalachia (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War) 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807137697
ISBN-10: 0807137693
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Editorial Reviews

Review

''This vivid portrait of one of the Civil War's legendary renegades is a welcome addition to the ever-expanding scholarship on guerrilla warfare. Brian McKnight adeptly draws on Champ Ferguson's ruthless and reckless exploits to provide fresh insights into the complex forces that propelled southern highlanders into a far more personal and localized conflict than that waged elsewhere in the Confederate South. A masterful study of both the man and the Appalachian society that produced him and his compatriots.'' --John C. Inscoe, author of Race, War, and Remembrance in the Appalachian South

''This insightful and deeply researched book paints a vivid picture of the infamous Rebel guerrilla Champ Ferguson and the war-torn mountain region where he pursued his homicidal career. An important contribution to our understanding of the Civil War in southern Appalachia.'' --Stephen V. Ash, author of Firebrand of Liberty: The Story of Two Black Regiments That Changed the Course of the Civil War

About the Author

Brian D. McKnight is Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia's College at Wise. His book, Contested Borderland: The Civil War in Appalachian Kentucky and Virginia, won the James I. Robertson Literary Prize in 2007.
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Product Details

  • Series: Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War
  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: LSU Press; 1 edition (April 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807137693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807137697
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,180,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Guerrilla fighters during the Civil War were a feared breed and perhaps the most feared of all was the legendary, or maybe infamous is a better word, Champ Ferguson. In his new book Confederate Outlaw, Brian McKnight shows Ferguson for what he was; a ruthless cold blooded killer who could still at rare times show compassion. Ferguson was at times working with small groups while at other times he served under men like John Hunt Morgan, Basil Duke, and George Dibbrell. This service and its ramifications is the subject of part of this book.

McKnight begins his book with an introduction where he discusses the literature of guerrilla warfare and Ferguson's place. Ferguson is portrayed as a product of his time and place. Home front paranoia, questions of loyalty and pragmatism are all related in the attempt to understand not just Ferguson but the Appalachian region during the Civil War period. Throughout, Ferguson claims his acts are in self defense. If he didn't act first his victims would have killed him instead.

Ferguson's murderous spree begins with the murder of Constable Reed in a particularly violent fashion. Ultimately Ferguson is tied to over 50 murders many of which are graphically detailed by McKnight. While graphic, these descriptions are needed to help paint the picture of the type man Ferguson was. Guerrilla war was often kill or be killed and Ferguson was an aggressor who cared little as to who he killed or how he did it.

When finally arrested in May of 1865 and brought to trial later that year there could be little doubt as to the ultimate outcome. Brought up on 23 cases involving 53 murders Ferguson plead not guilty. Ferguson and his attorney attempted to portray the guerrilla fighter as a captain in the Confederate army.
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Format: Hardcover
Guerilla warfare is one of the ugliest personifications of armed conflict and every conflict has had its share of this particularly brutal form, especially the American Civil War, which pitted divided families against each other to start with. Guerilla fighters during the Civil War were an especially feared breed and several have become infamous; perhaps none were more feared than the subject of this book, Champ Ferguson, who spread terror and spilled blood throughout the Appalachian area of Kentucky and Tennessee until he finally found himself at the end of a rope in the fall of 1865, convicted in 23 cases involving 53 murders.
McKnight's biography begins by delving into the literature of guerilla warfare and Ferguson's place in it. He discusses the situation in the Appalachian region, with its paranoia and its definition of loyalty, portraying Ferguson as a product of his time and place. His description of Ferguson's crimes is especially graphic and is related thusly in order to present the murderer as the type of man he was. Finally, he finishes up by accurately separating fact from fiction in Ferguson's savagely led life.
Meticulously researched, Confederate Outlaw paints a stunning picture of how the war reached beyond the battlefield in its spread of devastation when personal feuds and grudges escalated into wanton butchery. This should be standard reading for all those interested in the calumny of war.
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Format: Hardcover
I would say overall I enjoyed reading this selection about a confederate soldier living in and around Appalachia. The book is rooted in a great deal of factual, historical information about the civil war and the region during this time period. In summation I would recommend this book to anyone interested in American and Appalachian history.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I recently discovered Champ Ferguson is my first cousin 3x removed. This fact compelled me to learn more about this person, past the commonly known facts that he killed a lot of people (and was hung for it). He lived in a region where loyalties weren't clear, resulting in brothers choosing different sides throughout the American Civil War. Ferguson's family was such a family, and he was alone in his support for the confederacy. Ferguson's reasoning was simple - kill or be killed. Again and again his justification for those he killed was that each of them would have killed him if given the chance. Perhaps true, but not justification for murdering wounded soldiers lying in hospital beds.
Ferguson was fearless and by all accounts a loving husband and father. He was also a product of his environment during one of the most violent, confusing periods of American history. To understand Champion Ferguson requires looking at the larger picture, beyond just the fact that he murdered many people. I do not condone his violence, but I do understand how a person could be driven to extremes and seeing the world as 'kill or be killed'.
The author does well in showing us the world in which Ferguson lived and died. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this turbulent period in history.
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Format: Hardcover
I recently received an e-book copy of Confederate Outlaw by Brian D. McKnight. This was sent to me by LSU press to review.

If you know me you know I am a fan of History. As well, I am a huge fan of the Civil War time frame. Well this book feeds my enthusiasm for both of these items.

The book Confederate Outlaw follows the story of Camp Ferguson primarily. Camp Ferguson was a quite native of the Appalachian area of Kentucky and Tennessee who was a farmer until later in life. Yet this story chronicles the events that took a simple, although some what rough and brutish farmer, and turned him into a mass murderer for the confederate cause.

This book not only delves into his story but also into the story of the Appalachian areas during this time frame. This is a history of family against family, in fact Champ's own brothers fought for the union, as well as one who spent time trying to hunt him. The history is that of murder just for the `cause' of the confederate or union. It is the history of distrust, anxiety, and even paranoia.

Here is what the Publisher had to say on the book:
In the fall of 1865, the United States Army executed Confederate guerrilla Champ Ferguson for his role in murdering fifty-three loyal citizens of Kentucky and Tennessee during the Civil War. Long remembered as the most unforgivingand inglorious warrior of the Confederacy, Ferguson has often been dismissed by historians as a cold-blooded killer. In Confederate Outlaw: Champ Ferguson and the Civil War in Appalachia biographer Brian D. McKnight demonstrates how such a simple judgment ignores the complexity of this legendary character.
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