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The Uncivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 1861-1865 (Campaigns and Commanders) Hardcover – October, 2004

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About the Author

Robert R. Mackey, a Major in the U.S. Army, has been an army officer since 1988 and now serves as a strategic plans and policy specialist at the Pentagon.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Campaigns and Commanders (Book 5)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; First Edition edition (October 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806136243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806136240
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,353,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Roy E. Perry on December 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Upper South--Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas--was the scene of the most destructive war ever fought in the Western hemisphere. It included, among even more bloody encounters such as Gettysburg and Antietam, the battles of Manassas, Shiloh, Perryville, and Pea Ridge.

In The Uncivil War, Robert Mackey writes a dissertation about the unconventional warfare in the Upper South during the American Civil War. He points out that, alongside conventional warfare, where soldiers confronted one another in opposing lines of battle, there existed a "shadow war" employing irregular strategies--hit-and-run, behind-the-lines, create-havoc-and-confusion "guerrilla" attacks.

Examining the entire spectrum of irregular warfare during the Civil War: Mackey makes a distinction between three types of tactics: guerrilla (or people's war), partisan warfare, and raiding warfare. His thesis is that, whereas such maneuvers had limited success, they were ultimately unsuccessful, and often counterproductive, in their results.

Contrary to many historians, Mackey argues that the Confederacy overtly organized and fought an irregular conflict but lost. Also in contrast to previous scholars, he argues that this unconventional war existed not as a separate conflict from the conventional conflict but as an integral but subordinate part of the overall Confederate conduct of the war.

Mackey zeroes in on such leaders as Thomas C. Hindman in Arkansas, John Singleton Mosby in Virginia, John Hunt Morgan in Kentucky (and also in Tennessee, Indiana, and Ohio), and Nathan Bedford Forrest in Tennessee.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Terry Tucker on February 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The book is focused on irregular war in the upper South during the period 1862 to 1865 it is a scholarly work that is based on primary source documents from the official records of the National Archive and provides a clarity and understanding that dispels current myths.

The author begins his work by explaining the differences between partisan war, guerrilla war and raiding and he sets this stage by explaining the historical theory and practice of the time. Although it may appear that this definitional distinction is semantics, it is not and the 3 types of warfare are distinct. The author uses Jomini as the basis for defining these types of operations. This author takes his analysis another step by placing the definitions and doctrine within the context of the time and does not compare it with modern notions. This is an important aspect of methodology in which he rests both his thesis and the book. This author places both the success and failure of irregular war during the civil war into context within the period. Lastly, "Contrary to many historians he argues that the confederacy overtly organized and fought an irregular war and lost....that this unconventional war existed not as a separate conflict from the conventional conflict but formed and integral part of the overall war strategy" (from page 21 of the book)

In order to get a better understanding of this thesis and theory it would be extremely beneficial if one obtained the book "Compound Warfare That Fatal Knot". This is a product of the US Army War Command and General Staff College and you can download this from there web site in a pdf format or order this online from the US Government Printing Office.

This book is a valuable contribution to understanding the important lessons learned in counter-insurgency. At times the book is slow, but, all in all it is a good book and warrants serious consideration by any student of warfare. I strongly recommend this book
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on May 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
Along with other well written books dealing with counter-insurgency (Warfare by Other Means and Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam) this is a timely edition to the literature and an important addition to the history of the civil war. The campaigns of John Singelton Mosby have been chronicled elsewhere (Gray Ghost: The Life of Colonel John Singleton Mosby) and so have those of Quantrill (The Devil Knows How To Ride: The True Story Of William Clarke Quantril And His Confederate Raiders) and Forrest (Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography) but this book synthesizes the entire discussion and history of these irregular warefare experts and tries to not only come to a conclusion about defining them in terms of the time and in terms of the history og guerilla war, but also to provide a history of their emergence and the Union's attempts to deal with them.

This is a well written and interesting account, although the picture on the cover leaves something to be desired. A very fascinating addition to material on the civil war and a fascinating topic that many will find interesting, especiall Civil War buffs and those interested in irregular warfare. The only problem is that the book should have been expanded to deal with the guerilla campaigns in Kansas and Missouri.

Seth J. Frantzman
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on March 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
At the end of the Civil War Grant was critized for having given Lee surrender terms that were far less harsh than the people of the Union felt should have been imposed.

Grant, however, was afraid that Lee would disperse his army to continue the war as a guerrilla army. It may be that he also wanted to save something of the union rather than creating unending hatred on the part of the south.

During the war the South had created several of what would now be called irregular forces. The varied from the Gray Ghost, John Mosby in Virginia to Fortest and Morgan in Kentucky/Tennessee, to a range of groups in Arkansas/Missouri that included William Quantrill, Frank and Jesse James, Cole Younger and others that were little more than bandits.

The Union was able to defeat these units, but only at great cost in people, money, and equipment. Building a blockhouse to defend every railroad bridge is a major effort. (The Union blockhouses looked a great deal like the blockhouses used by the British to defeat the Boors in South Africa forty years later.)

This book brings this new story to the accumulated literature of the Civil War in an organized and complete manner that hasn't been done before. This is an area of the war that can no longer be neglected in our histories.
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