Guerrilla Leaders

William Bloody Bill Anderson (Confederate) A Missourian and one of Quantrill's (q.v.) captains, Anderson seems to have gone insane after one of his sisters died in a Kansas City prison collapse. He often charged into battle muttering her name and frothing at the mouth, yet he remained a cunning tactician. His penchant for killing civilians and scalping soldiers earned him the reputation as the most merciless of the Bushwhackers. After Quantrill's group broke up in the winter of 1863 64 Anderson...

Tactics

Guerrillas varied widely in their tactical ability. Most contented themselves with harassing civilians and sniping at small groups of enemy soldiers, while others developed a keen sense of tactics equal to that of any career officer. The classic bushwhack was a simple yet effective ambush. One or more guerrillas concealed themselves in the undergrowth along a road, cutting a small hole in the greenery in the opposite direction from which the enemy would come after the enemy passed, the...

Guerrillas And The Civilian Populations

Quantrill And His Men

No guerrilla force can survive for long without the active support of at least a part of the civilian population, on whom they rely for food, information, and BATTLE OF BRICE'S CROSSROADS, JUNE 10, 1864 This was a prime example of the employment of large numbers of partisan rangers in a pitched battle. Concerned about MajGen Nathan Bedford Forrest's regular attacks on the Nashville amp Chattanooga Railroad in Tennessee, Gen Sherman ordered BrigGen Samuel Sturgisinto northern Mississippi to...

Maryland Virginia And Tennessee

Martial Law Confederacy

After the fall of Fort Sumter irregular fighting flared up all across the South and the Border States, and secessionist crowds took over Federal and state armories. In Maryland on April 19, 1861, a pro-Southern mob attacked the 6th Massachusetts Infantry as they changed trains in Baltimore on their way to defend Washington, DC four soldiers and 12 rioters died, becoming perhaps the first casualties of the war. Bands of secessionists proceeded to burn bridges, cut telegraph lines and tear up...

Partisan Ranger Leaders

Partisan Rangers

Tinker Dave Beaty Union An illiterate tinker from eastern Tennessee, in 1862 he formed Beaty's Independent Scouts, a partisan group recognized and supplied by the Federal army. Ranging from a couple of dozen men to about 100, it attracted deserters from both sides. Beaty helped secure the roads from Confederate guerrillas, but spent much of his time harassing enemy civilians he also murdered soldiers on both sides for their weapons, and ambushed supply wagons for loot. A bitter enemy of Champ...

Partisan Rangers

Due to their official status as members of the Confederate Army, partisan rangers usually wore standard cavalry uniforms often with sweeping ostrich-feather hat plumes - but they were not above dressing in civilian clothing or Union uniforms to trick the enemy. Partisan commanders disagreed over the advisability of this, as anyone captured behind enemy lines not wearing Confederate uniform might be subject to summary execution. Captured Union clothing was, of course, often pressed into service...

The Partisan Ranger Act April 1862

Confederate President Jefferson Davis disapproved of irregular warfare, judging guerrillas as too hard to control and a drain on the potential ranks of the regular army. In iate 1 861 Confederate Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin stated that Guerrilla companies arc not recognized as part of the military organization of the Confederate States, and in early 1862 Gen Joseph E. Johnston drove recruiters for guerrilla bands from his camps. However, faced with the reality of large numbers of...

Mosby The Last Great Raider

Amerindian Scout Technics

As Morgan's star fell, that of John Singleton Mosby was ascending. A lawyer from solid Virginia stock, he had enlisted as a private, but his talent soon earned him a position as MajGen J.L.B. Stuart's most trusted scout, providing excellent intelligence during a number of campaigns. In March 1863 he was commissioned a captain of partisan rangers and given the task of fighting Members of the Delaware tribe acting as Federal scouts. Native Americans fought for both sides, and provided some of the...

The Spiral Of Reprisals

William Quantrill

By the end of 1862, Missouri and northern Arkansas had settled into a pattern of guerrilla attacks and Union reprisals that differed only in their ever-increasing viciousness. The Union command imprisoned the womenfolk of known Bushwhackers and pressured their families to move south into Confederate territory, in the hopes that the guerrillas would follow. When a Kansas City prison collapsed on August 14, 1863, and killed five such women, the Bushwhackers flew into a rage, convinced that the...

Aftermath

Bloody Bill Anderson

In the months following the surrender of the main Confederate armies, many people ached to settle scores before the rule of law was reestablished. Some could not convince themselves that the war was over, and many guerrillas did not want to give up their freebooting ways. This was especially true in more remote regions such as western Texas, the Indian Territory, Missouri, and Arkansas, which for months after the war were awash with former guerrillas, deserters, and also marauding Indians....

The Effectiveness Of Irregular Warfare

Jayhawkers

Since irregulars were predominantly used by the Confederacy, the obvious point is that they did not save the South from defeat, but a closer look reveals that they both helped and hindered the war effort. Guerrilla warfare in the Bleeding Kansas era helped draw the United States into civil war, creating an atmosphere of bitter and divisive lawlessness that made descent into open warfare all the easier. In the eyes of African Americans the most significant contribution would be that of the...

Leadership

Nathan Bedford Forrest

Guerrilla bands ranged in strength from a handful to hundreds of men, but each was a loose conglomeration unified by a charismatic leader. A guerrilla leader had to be brave, tough, successful, but most of all a hero to the mostly young farm boys who followed him. Leading, not to mention controlling, a rough group of guerrillas took a man who led from the front and fought at least as well as the average member of his group. Since he did not enjoy membership of the officer class of the organized...

Union Precautions Confederate Raids

Missouri Guerillas Partisan Rangers

The year 1863 saw a rise in guerrilla activity in the Trans-Mississippi. In response, the Union command in Missouri and northern Arkansas created a A Union foraging party returns to camp. While the artist has depicted a rich plunder of produce and animals, in reality forage became increasingly scarce as the war dragged on and the civilian population in contested areas were looted into destitution by both sides. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper system of defense in depth. Each county got its...

Guerrillas And The Regular Armies

William Mcwaters Missouri Guerrilla

Many guerrillas actively aided the campaigns of the regular armies. Their local knowledge and contacts made them excellent scouts, and at times they joined regular forces to fight pitched battles. Even unruly figures such as Quantrill and Ferguson on the Confederate and Beaty on the Union side did this on numerous occasions. Regular officers tended to take a dim view of guerrillas, who generally ignored orders even when they could be found and given them. Many guerrillas in the...

Arkansas

State commanders often modified this act, the most innovative being the new Confederate commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department. In May 1862, Ma j Gen Thomas C. Hind man arrived in Little Rock, Arkansas, at a threatening moment. Price's defeat at Pea Ridge on March 7 had not only crushed the South's hopes of taking Missouri but left Arkansas open to invasion. The Confederacy needed the state's manpower, agricultural produce, and geographical position to threaten the Union west, but most...

Partisan Rangers And Cavalry Raiders

Colt Revolver Rough Rider

A combination of mobility, disinformation campaigns, knowledge of terrain, and aggressiveness were the keys to success for partisan rangers and cavalry raiders alike. Partisan rangers used many of the same tactics as guerrillas, but since they generally constituted larger forces they also employed small-scale battle tactics. Their adversaries tended to outnumber them, so partisans only gave battle at a time and place of their own choosing. Most bands avoided direct fights with equal or greater...

Consequences Of The Conscription

South Carolina Conscription

A significant milestone for Unionist guerrillas came with the Confederate Conscription Act of April 16,1862, which made military service compulsory for men aged 18 to 35. This had the same effect as the militia act in Missouri - it forced civilians to choose sides, and as a consequence Union guerrillas sprang up in western North and South Carolina, northern Georgia, Alabama's northern hill country, parts of Mississippi, and the swamps of Louisiana and Florida. Secret societies such as the...

Cavalry Raiders Morgan And Forrest 1862

Missouri Partisan Rangers 1863

In Kentucky and Tennessee, perhaps the Confederacy's two greatest cavalry raiders - BrigGens John Hunt Morgan and Nathan Bedford Forrest - began major operations. At the start of the war Morgan commanded a militia in Lexington, Kentucky, and when that state declared neutrality he moved them south to join the Confederate army. He became a captain in October 1861, and immediately began targeting outposts and bridges behind Federal lines in Kentucky and Tennessee, sometimes dressing his men in...

Missouri

Clothing Missouri Partisan Rangers

The state that started the irregular war, Missouri, was an important prize for both sides. Larger than Virginia and more populous than Georgia, Missouri produced more food than all but three of the Confederate states, and St Louis controlled the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Despite their reputation, most Missourians did not want to secede they wanted a negotiated solution, and consistently voted for moderate candidates. However, Kansas Jayhawkers rarely made any...

Clothing And Weapons Guerrillas

Missouri Guerrillas Hats

Rebel guerrillas almost never wore Confederate uniforms. If they wore any uniform at all, they preferred captured Union ones, which allowed them to get the jump on Union soldiers or move in close to towns and depots unchallenged. As a countermeasure, local Union commanders created an elaborate set of hand signals to identify blue-clad men from a distance. An example from the Central District of Missouri instructed The following signals and pass words for July, 1864, will be transmitted by...

Centralia Se Rawlings Lane

Bloody Bill Anderson was one of the war's most competent guerrilla tacticians, whose most notorious exploit was the raid on Centralia, Missouri, on September 27,1864 - an attack that exemplifies the daring and bloodthirstiness that were the key to the Bushwhackers' success in the Trans-Mississippi theater. Major-General Sterling Price had entered Missouri from Arkansas leading an army of 12,000 men, with the intention of taking St Louis. To soften up the state's defenses he had instructed...

Civil War Partisan Rangers

Free State Batteries Bleeding Kansas

At the beginning of the American Civil War in 1861 the Confederacy faced serious strategic problems. The North had a greater landmass, a larger population, more industry, more railroads, and more munitions factories. The populations in Border States such as Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia had divided loyalties, and even in the deepest South there were Tories who wanted to remain in the Union. Every single state in the Confederacy contributed troops to the Union army. Given this...