Robert R. Mackey, a Major in the U.S. Army since 1988, examines the irregular methods - the guerrilla, the partisan, and the raider - the Confederacy used to combat the Federal Army during the Civil War in the Upper South. He first examines the guerrilla method by focusing on Arkansas.
The Confederate guerrillas terrorized the pro-Union people of northwest Arkansas and attacked Union forces that were in the area. These guerillas – William C. Quantrill was considered to be one - eventually attacked anyone they wanted to and became more like outlaws than patriots; even the Confederate government was after them. These guerillas were not obedient to the Confederate Army or anyone, and they were more out for themselves as the war continued.
The second irregular method was the partisan, and John S. Mosby is the prime example of this. The Confederate government gave Mosby permission to conduct raids on the Union forces and its supporters in the Shenandoah River Valley in Virginia to keep the Union Army busy instead of marching on Richmond. The partisans were organized into military groupings and followed orders coming from those in command of the Confederate Army and government. Mosby controlled a chunk of the Valley which became known as Mosby’s Confederacy.
The most famous examples of the third method, the raiders, were John Hunt Morgan and Nathan Bedford Forrest. These raiders were organized into military groups, too, and were part of a larger army as cavalry units. Morgan and Forrest mainly raided in Kentucky and Tennessee. Morgan also tried raiding into Ohio and other states but found that he was too far from the Confederacy and outnumbered, which forced him to surrender.
Mackey shows that these kinds of warfare would not save the Confederacy. When General Lee was about to surrender to General Grant, some of his generals suggested that they continue the war in an irregular way. General Lee, though, knew it would not work, and that such means would only make the situation for everyone even worse. The reports Lee had from the partisans and the raiders showed that their methods did not work in the end.
Mackey devotes at least two chapters per method of irregular warfare in which he thoroughly examines the pros and cons of the method with an interesting narrative. Maps help show where things are taking place, and Mackey provides period photographs and illustrations as well as endnotes, an extensive bibliography, and an index. This book is volume 5 of the Campaign and Commanders series.
The book is based on Mackey’s dissertation; he now serves as a strategic plans and policy specialist at the Pentagon. An Uncivil War is recommended to Civil War enthusiasts interested in irregular warfare and to those also interested in the Western theatre of the War.