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 Southerners in Union-occupied territory, a lack of sufficient conventional forces, and irregular warfare already raging across the country, the Confederate Congress passed the Partisan Ranger Act on April 21, 1862. This authorized President Davis to commission officers to raise bands of partisan rangers; they would receive the same pay and supplies as regular troops and be subject to the same regulations, but would act independently, and would be paid by the Quartermaster for any captured arms and munitions they delivered. The prospect of independent service seemed exciting and profitable to many young Southern men, and the Partisan Ranger Act would change the way the Civil War was fought.

A blockhouse near Aqueduct Bridge, Arlington Heights, Virginia. These simple log forts were quick and easy to construct, yet offered a commanding field Of fire Over important transport routes. This one even has a crude drawbridge; the walkway connecting the stairs to the doorway could be pulled away, and the lack of windows on the ground floor made it difficult to storm. (LoC)

Kansas Senator James Lane was quick to realize that there would be a war over slavery, and did his best to hasten its beginning by leading Jayhawking raids into Missouri. It is illegal for a US senator to lead armies in the field, but that did not stop him either before or during the war. Lane was a resident of Lawrence, Kansas, and was himself one of the targets of Quantrill's raid on August 21,1863, When the Bushwhackers attacked at dawn Lane managed to slip away in his nightshirt, and Quantrill had to content himself with burning down the senator's house. As soon as Lane had secured a horse, gun, and clothes, he organized a pursuit that hounded Quantrill back across the state line. (Kansas State Historical Society)

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