15th September 2003
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This is an exploration of the degree of equivalence between the current actions of "Al-Qaida" and those of the "Bushwackers" during the period around the American Civil War. The focus is on how these groups were, and are, respectively perceived and portrayed. The purpose of this review is to examine the ambiguities in assessing their role as "terrorists" in situations in which different groups frame their actions as either horrific, unjustified or heroic. A further reason is the use of the term "Bushwacker" in relation to the actions of the coterie of people surrounding George Bush -- who again may be perceived as engaged in actions which are horrific, unjustified or heroic.
For the five years before the American Civil War, residents of the neighboring states of Confederate Missouri and pro-Union Kansas waged their own civil conflict, one that was characterized by unrelenting and unparalleled brutality. Both sides were lined up along the border, ready to fight for race. War is about armies on the battlefield, but this was personal. More than anywhere else in the nation, the conflict raging in Missouri and Kansas was truly a civil war, whose wounds were a long time in healing.
One of the difficulties, as with any discussion of modern terrorism, is the perspective from which distinctions are made. It was a characteristic of the Civil War period that guerilla activity and milita groups were formed in defence of areas and in revenge for depredations exacted upon them. The subtleties of how "official" or "legitimate" were these activities would have been considered theoretical in that context. According to their actions, and the allegiances which they may have successfully or unsuccessfully fomed with more bodies percieved to be more legitimate, their own status and legitimacy might be reframed either positively or negatively.
Some useful distinctions are made in Partisans, Guerillas, Irregulars and Bushwhackers "The Truth Behind The Names". (The Missouri Partisan Ranger, 1995) which notes: "Through the course of time, media articles, novels, and even personal conversations, has there been a huge lack of understanding of these terms. Many of which are used interchangeably and tossed about with abandon":
Glorification and misrepresentation
At first, most of the Bushwhackers were young farm boys, volunteers who wanted to defend their homes and take revenge for things done to them and their families. Later on, a more restless breed flocked to Quantrill's black silk banner....If anything, plundering and murder were more important to them than were states' rights....Attempts have been made to see the Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers as latter-day Robin Hoods. They weren't. --Mike Wright
Jennison's closest Southern counterpart, sometime schoolteacher, farmer, and gambler, William Clarke Quantrill, was a strange young man with blue eyes. Undeniably intelligent, he formed his band of guerrilla troops around Christmas in 1861. His was the largest and best-known band of guerrillas in the state of Missouri. Anyone who wanted to join his band was asked just one question: "Will you follow orders, be true to your comrades, and kill those who serve and support the Union?" It was mustered into Confederate service in 1862, but the groups continued to operate independently. Quantrill was 26 years old when he and his followers sacked Lawrence, Kansas, on August 21, 1863. That dramatic attack was so deliberate, cold and brutal that it caught the horrified imagination of the public and made more of Quantrill than there was really was. Revenge for Union atrocities, real or imagined, was one stimulus for the Lawrence raid. A 3-story brick building in Kansas City was used by the Federals as a temporary prison for some women alleged to have aided Bushwhackers.
TERRORIST THREAT (https://hosta.atsc.eustis.army.mil/cgi-bin/ atdl.dll/accp/it0468/lsn1.htm )
Thomas Chittum, author of the patriotic best-selling book "Civil War 2"
Terrence Daniels. Revolutionaries Oppose Terrorism 17, September 01, (text)
Edward Spannaus. This article appears in the . Military Tribunals Are Dangerous in Ashcroft's Hands. Executive Intelligence Review, 7 December 2001 (text)
Noe, Kenneth W., "Who Were the Bushwackers? Age, Class, Kin, and Western Virginia's Confederate Guerrillas, 1861-1862," Civil War History, 49 (March 2003), 5-31.
Brophy, Patrick. Bushwackers of the Border. Nevada, MO: Vernon County Historical Society, 1980.
McCorkle, John. Three Years with Quantrill. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma, 1992.
Trotter, William R. - Bushwackers: The Civil War in North Carolina - The Mountains 12.95 pb
Breihan, Carl W. Quantrill and his Civil War Guerrillas. Promontory Press, 1959.
Brant, Marley. The Outlaw Youngers, a Confederate Brotherhood. Madison Books, 1992.
Fellman, Michael. Inside War, the Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War. Oxford University Press, 1989.
SPIES, SCOUTS, AND RAIDERS: IRREGULAR OPERATIONS. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1985. (Good source of information on "Jayhawkers" and "Bushwackers." )
Guerillas-a member of a band of persons engaged in warfare not as part of a regular army but as an independent unit making surprise raids behind enemy lines. Bushwacker-see Guerilla
Missouri's pro-slavery guerillas confronted free state troopers often, to preserve their vision of the good life. Also known as guerillas or bushwackers, the best known pro-slavery band was led by William Quantrill. Ordinary farmers joined Quantrill to defend their homes and their families' honor. Quantrill and his men made many raids and participated in violent skirmishes and other fights. A supporter of Quantrill was John McCorkle. He said,
Trow, Harrison. CHARLES W. QUANTRELL: A TRUE HISTORY OF HIS GUERRILLA WARFARE ON THE MISSOURI AND KANSAS BORDER DURING THE CIVIL WAR OF 1861-1865. Kansas City, MO: 1923.
Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War Book by: T. J. Stiles Manufacturer: Knopf List Price: $27.50 - Our Price: $19.25 Media: Hardcover Release Date: 17 September, 2002
Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers: Uncivil Missouri and Kansas (text)
Partisans, Guerillas, Irregulars and Bushwhackers "The Truth Behind The Names". The Missouri Partisan Ranger, 1995 (text)
Bloody Bill Anderson-His Impact on the Civil War in Johnson County, Missouri. (text)
Beatty, Patricia. Jayhawker.
Cordley, Richard. The Lawrence Massacre.
Schultz, Duane. Quantrill's War : The Life and Times of William Clarke Quantrill 1837-1865.
Wright, Mike. What They Didn't Teach You About the Civil War.
Brownlee, Richard S. Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy, Guerrilla Warfare in the West, 1861-1865. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1958.
Edwards, John N. Noted Guerrillas, or the Warfare of the Border. Dayton, OH: Morningside Bookshop, 1877, 1976.
Bushwackers of the Border Vernon Co. Historical Society
In justification of the destruction of the property of ex-Governor Letcher, it is said, whether truly or falsely I can not say, that the form of a hand-bill was found in a printing (end of page 597) establishment in Lexington, bearing Letcher's name, and urging the bushwhacking of Federal soldiers; and, further, that his house was occupied by concealed sharpshooters, who fired upon some of General Hunter's men.
The Great Invasion of 1863; or, General Lee in Pennsylvania (Excerpts) By: Jacob Hoke (text)
The policy of the commanders of the Federal armies operating in the Shenandoah Valley had been humane and lenient, notwithstanding the evils complained of, but when General Hunter succeeded to the command in that place, he adopted a different policy. From the time he assumed command in that department he gave evidence that he had decided convictions as to how to deal with such inveterate haters of the Union. He was convinced that the mild and lenient course pursued by his predecessors had only em- (end of page 598) boldened them in their unwarranted methods, and he determined to adopt a retaliatory policy. Guerrillas and bushwhackers, whose depredations had heretofore gone unpunished, were now notified that their claim to be in the regular Confederate service, under which they claimed exemption from the summary punishment inflicted upon irregular and unorganized soldiers, would no longer avail them. He accordingly issued and circulated the following circular:
HEAD-QUARTERS OF WEST VIRGINIA, - IN THE FIELD. Valley of the Shenandoah, May 24th, 1864.
In 1857 Marion County residents bore witness to the Mountain Meadow Massacre, the horror of which was merely a forerunner to the events which followed the 1 June 1861 adoption by the State Legislature (by a 1-vote majority) of he Constitution of The Confederate States - the Civil War. This was probably the very worst time in the entire history of the area. For four long years, Marion County was a "divided" place - brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor. Although there were no actual battles fought in Marion County, there were many war-related deaths. At one time or another, either a Union or a Confederate Post was located in Yellville - both with hospitals, enlistment centers, and regimental headquarters. Simultaneously Bushwackers, Jayhawkers, and just plain renegades ran rampant throughout the area, threatening, stealing, burning, terrorizing, murdering, and torturing everyone and everything. Many families left Marion County, most traveling to Missouri, seeking both food and safety. Before the Civil War there were 922 families in Marion County; by 1870 there were only 750. By 1880 the population had grown slightly, but there was no major increase until the mining era of 1890 through 1920.
Marion County Families 1811-1900 (permission by Vicki Roberts and Mysty McPherson)
Ride with the Devil 1999 (2000) - Universal
Based on Daniel Woodrell's 1987 novel Woe to Live On, Ang Lee's Ride with the Devil tells the story of a young man named Jake Roedel (Tobey Maguire), growing up on the frontier of America during the Civil War. While the Union and Confederate armies battle fiercely in the East, Missouri seems an unlikely place for conflict. But the war is starting to become personal for a lot of young men like Jake. With no army to join, loyalists on both sides of the issue at hand are forming their own armed militias to fight each other - the Jayhawkers allied with the North and the Bushwackers with the South. Jake and his friend Jack Bull Chiles (Skeet Ulrich) grew up as Southerners, but have no particularly strong feelings about slavery, right or wrong. Their fear is simply that their friends and neighbors - their people - are coming under attack. That fear is born out when a band of Jayhawkers kills Jack Bull's father in a raid one night. To revenge his death, the two run away and join the Bushwackers. But the thing about these militias, is that anyone can join. So in addition to those who want revenge or believe in the cause, you've got men who just like killing. It doesn't matter who - anyone who gets in the way will do. And once revenge has been had, there's only a hollow feeling left and only so much killing you can witness.
Bushwacker Story Compiled by Arminta Smith (text)
General Halleck, commander in Missouri declared if the Bushwackers were caught, they would not be treated as prisoners of war, but would be hung like robbers and murderers. So Quantrill was declared an outlaw by the Federal authorities, but when the Bushwhackers found out about this order they started shooting every Yankee they could find. Quantrill traveled to Richmond to speak to President Davis about his rank, and he returned as a Colonel, but others say he just called himself a Colonel and was not given an appointment. When he returned the whole Confederate department had been reorganized and general Ewing was now in command. Quantrill said, "Ewing may command the district, but I run the machine." And his Bushwackers raided right under Ewing's nose, and George Todd even took a captive Union man along with him and then sent him to Ewing to be a witness. All this happened as Robert E. Lee crossed into Pennsylvania, sweeping along the road toward Gettysburg. During this winter 1862-3, Quantrill's raiders acted as scouts for the Missouri Brigade, which was part of the Calvary Unit under the command of General John S. Marmaduke. (Marmaduke was a West Point graduate and son of wealthy parents. His father served as governor of Virginia). But he was a man that could not be trusted; he served in Johnston's Army in the Utah expedition, and then resigned his position to follow Johnston into Confederate service. Those Bushwackers were as reckless and picturesque riders as ever cinched a saddle. Most of them grew long hair, had beards, goatees, or mustaches and long sideburns. They favored round-brimmed hats and tucked their baggy pants into high-topped cavalry boots. When not wearing a regular shirt of gray or brown, he sported a "guerilla shirt" knitted by his wife, or sweetheart, decoratively embroidered and had many pockets for bullets. Two or four revolvers were stuck into his holster and wider leather belts, often with another 4 guns on his horse. These men benefited from the support of the citizens. Many of the Missourians looked upon them as saviors and protectors, but not for long. The majority was scared to death of them and lived in constant fear of their appearance. Quantrill fell in love with Sarah (Kate) Kings, who embroidered his shirts. Old timers who knew her said she was pretty beyond question. He surely kept her in diamonds by all his looting. Quantrill called his captains for a conference and outlined plans for the greatest raid of the war. Lawrence, Kansas epitomized everything the south despised in the North. Its New England reformers, its widely circulating newspapers had roused the nation with abolition propaganda for seven years. Quantrill's captains listened sullenly, and they rode away without agreeing on any plans. Then an accident happened and the situation changed; they felt they needed to get some revenge. In the campaign to stamp out bushwhacking, many women had been arrested on their homesteads for sheltering guerillas. The prisoners included three sisters of Bloody Bill Anderson's, the Munday girls, Martha and Sue, and Jesse James's mother and sister had also been taken from their home by the Union soldiers. Most of the disloyal women were incarcerated at Kansas City in an old brick building. The first floor contained stores. The second floor, where the girls were imprisoned, was reached by an outside stairway at the rear. The country girls noticed that some of their fellow prisoners were women of bad character--Quantrill spies, too--and refused to speak to them. When Ewing assumed command, he made it a point to treat them all with consideration, so the prostitutes roomed by themselves. All were allowed playing cards and musical instruments. The Munday and Anderson girls all sent home for their own bedding. Those who would pledge their word not to escape were permitted to go downstairs, under guard, and visit the store.
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