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The Civil War in Missouri

A Military History

Louis S. Gerteis

Publication Year: 2012

Guerrilla warfare, border fights, and unorganized skirmishes are all too often the only battles associated with Missouri during the Civil War. Combined with the state’s distance from both sides’ capitals, this misguided impression paints Missouri as an insignificant player in the nation’s struggle to define itself. Such notions, however, are far from an accurate picture of the Midwest state’s contributions to the war’s outcome. Though traditionally cast in a peripheral role, the conventional warfare of Missouri was integral in the Civil War’s development and ultimate conclusion. The strategic battles fought by organized armies are often lost amidst the stories of guerrilla tactics and bloody combat, but in The Civil War in Missouri, Louis S. Gerteis explores the state’s conventional warfare and its effects on the unfolding of national history.


Both the Union and the Confederacy had a vested interest in Missouri throughout the war. The state offered control of both the lower Mississippi valley and the Missouri River, strategic areas that could greatly factor into either side’s success or failure. Control of St. Louis and mid-Missouri were vital for controlling the West, and rail lines leading across the state offered an important connection between eastern states and the communities out west. The Confederacy sought to maintain the Ozark Mountains as a northern border, which allowed concentrations of rebel troops to build in the Mississippi valley. With such valuable stock at risk, Lincoln registered the importance of keeping rebel troops out of Missouri, and so began the conventional battles investigated by Gerteis.


The first book-length examination of its kind, The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History dares to challenge the prevailing opinion that Missouri battles made only minor contributions to the war. Gerteis specifically focuses not only on the principal conventional battles in the state but also on the effects these battles had on both sides’ national aspirations. This work broadens the scope of traditional Civil War studies to include the losses and wins of Missouri, in turn creating a more accurate and encompassing narrative of the nation’s history.

Published by: University of Missouri Press


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pp. 2-7


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pp. 8-9

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pp. ix-xi

In the history of the United States nothing rankles more than the tensions and enmities of the Civil War. In this military history of the war in Missouri, I have tried to offer a balanced account of the conflict’s triumphs and defeats. At the same time I recognize that all ...

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p. xiii-xiii

This work began after a conversation some years ago with Clair Willcox, editor-in-chief of the University of Missouri Press. Willcox had long wanted to publish a one-volume military history of the Civil War in ...

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pp. 1-7

This is a work of traditional military history: it focuses on strategy, tactics, and terrain; on the organization, movement, and deployment of troops; and on the victories and defeats experienced by armies in the field. It requires some familiarity with the ...

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Chapter One: “Your First Allegiance”

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pp. 8-31

Small-scale slavery flourished in Missouri in 1860. In the state’s largest slaveholding counties, small slaveholders defined and defended a distinctive southern culture in close proximity to Free State communities in Illinois and Kansas—and in St. Louis, a booming ...

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Chapter Two: “Formidable Preparations . . . By the Enemy”

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pp. 32-53

As Claiborne Jackson and Sterling Price left St. Louis to make their way back to Jefferson City, they must have recognized that their ability to control Missouri’s great city had eluded them. St. Louis was now the hub of Federal authority in the Trans-Mississippi West and in ...

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Chapter Three: “In the Valley of Wilson’s Creek”

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pp. 54-98

On the morning of July 6, Sterling Price and Ben McCulloch continued their advance into Missouri. They were well on their way from Neosho to Carthage when they received word that Claiborne Jackson had pushed aside Franz Sigel the previous ...

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Chapter Four: “Tell My Wife that I Died like a Brave Man for Missouri”

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pp. 99-131

For Price, the march north from Springfield was triumphal. McCulloch’s disdain continued to rankle, but the Texas Ranger was now back in Arkansas, and Price returned to the heartland of Missouri with State Guardsmen who had fought well at Wilson’s Creek. With Lyon ...

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Chapter Five: “There Is No Rebel Flag Now Flying in Missouri”

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pp. 132-178

If Ulysses Grant ever met James B. Eads he made no mention of it in his Memoirs. While Grant struggled to make a living in St. Louis in the 1850s, Eads lived in comfortable retirement in his city home on Compton Hill. But metaphorically ...

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Chapter Six: “He Saw the Rebellion Vanishing before Him”

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pp. 179-203

In the year that separated Shelby’s raid (October 1863) from Price’s expedition (October 1864), Federal forces adopted a determined effort to coordinate the activities of armies in the East and West and to carve the Confederacy into militarily disjointed ...

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pp. 205-208

Frank Blair, arguably the most aggressive Unionist in Missouri during the secession crisis, returned to the state in June 1865 after three years of military service in the field. Blair had led the fight against Governor Claiborne Jackson’s policy of armed ...


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pp. 209-232


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pp. 233-237

E-ISBN-13: 9780826272744
E-ISBN-10: 0826272746
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826219725
Print-ISBN-10: 0826219721

Page Count: 255
Illustrations: 11 maps, 35
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1