- Paperback: 186 pages
- Publisher: Indiana University Press; New Ed edition (1 Mar. 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0253213037
- ISBN-13: 978-0253213037
- Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.6 x 23.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,211,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Black Flag: Guerrilla Warfare on the Western Border, 1861--1865 Paperback – 1 Mar 1999
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About the Author
THOMAS GOODRICH is a professional writer with a focus on the American Civil War. His previous book, Bloody Dawn: The Story of the Lawrence Massacre, was a selection of the History Book Club.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
With most histories it is easy to take sides in hindsight, or to proclaim who was right or wrong. Not so with the border war, where there were no heroes, no shining hour of courage, no happy ending to years of suffering. Both sides lost the battle as the border war raged. This is American History in its darkest time as lawlessness ruled, as the eyes of a nation were riveted on "big" battles to the east.
Although I was familiar with the redlegs, Quantrill, and Bloody Bill Anderson before I read this book, Goodrich breathes life into them, Quantrill benefiting the most. Often one of the most reviled characters in American history, Goodrich shows him as a more complex figure. In a war zone where any vestige of nobility was scarce, Quantrill comes off best, standing by his orders that women would not be harmed. If only the redlegs and Anderson's men had such a strain of character. That isn't to say Quantrill is heroic, just not as demonic as the other participants.
While I was reading this book, I also waded through a history of the Foreign Legion, which was more "academic" (meaning tedious and poorly written). In comparison to that book, this is a classic - even without so harsh a contrast this book is well written, well organized, and well thought out. I would recommend it to anyone as a satisfying reading experience.
Each side committed attrocities, which were used as justification for the attrocities committed by the other side.
The book is well-researched, and filled with first-hand accounts of what went on there. Anybody who thinks of war as a glorious adventure should read this book and see how ugly it can become. The brutality of the way they killed one another and mutilated the bodies of their victims is shocking.
Men surrendered, being told they would be treated as prisoners of war, only to be gunned down in cold blood. The murdered men were sometimes beheaded or scalped, and some of the killers rode around with necklaces made of body parts they had cut off of their victims.
It's not a very pleasant book to read, but if you want to know more about that part of the war, this is a good way to learn about it. If you don't want to read something this violent, but still want to know more about this part of the war, you should read Ride With the Devil (a novel covering the same topic) or watch the movie by the same name. The novel and movie are plenty violent, but not nearly as graphic as this book.
Eastern theater and sometimes the Western theater. This was one
of the first books I read on the Trans-Mississippi, and it was one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read on the entire
topic of the Civil War. It shines a spotlight on little-known areas and personalities of the war and particularly on the murderous and often personal violence in the regions west of the
Mississippi. It offers a great corrective for those who view the
Civil War as a "gentleman's conflict" and a "chivalrous era."
Buy and read this book!
Goodrich does an adequate job broadly describing the Boarder Wars of 1861-1865. His use of primary sources, i.e. diaries, newspaper accounts and correspondence brings an interesting look into the lives of those who lived through those bloody years. However, I found Goodrich's narrative lacking and the depth of his book to be quite shallow.
Although briefly touching on the more notable incidents of the war, i.e. the Lawrence Raid, Ewing's General Order No. 11 and others, he fails to thoroughly examine the events with a keen enough eye. The same can be said for his description of pertinent actors. Although remaining objective and granting fair coverage to both sides, he fails to truly explain the motives behind much of the guerilla leadership and their role in the conflict.
Little new was provided by Goodrich that has not been thoroughly fleshed out by other authors. I would recommend "The Devil Knows How to Ride..." by Edward E. Leslie. All though concentrating on William Quantrill, Leslie's work provides a much greater study of the guerilla wars than Goodrich.