Civil War in Missouri: A Military History by Louis S. GerteisCivil War in Missouri: A Military History by Louis S. Gerteis

Civil War in Missouri: A Military History

byLouis S. Gerteis

Hardcover | May 1, 2012

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 188 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store

Out of stock online

Not available in stores


Guerrilla warfare, border fights, and unorganized skirmishes are all too often the only battles associated with Missouri during the Civil War. Combined with the state’s distance from both sides’ capitals, this misguided impression paints Missouri as an insignificant player in the nation’s struggle to define itself. Such notions, however, are far from an accurate picture of the Midwest state’s contributions to the war’s outcome. Though traditionally cast in a peripheral role, the conventional warfare of Missouri was integral in the Civil War’s development and ultimate conclusion. The strategic battles fought by organized armies are often lost amidst the stories of guerrilla tactics and bloody combat, but in The Civil War in Missouri, Louis S. Gerteis explores the state’s conventional warfare and its effects on the unfolding of national history.


Both the Union and the Confederacy had a vested interest in Missouri throughout the war. The state offered control of both the lower Mississippi valley and the Missouri River, strategic areas that could greatly factor into either side’s success or failure. Control of St. Louis and mid-Missouri were vital for controlling the West, and rail lines leading across the state offered an important connection between eastern states and the communities out west. The Confederacy sought to maintain the Ozark Mountains as a northern border, which allowed concentrations of rebel troops to build in the Mississippi valley. With such valuable stock at risk, Lincoln registered the importance of keeping rebel troops out of Missouri, and so began the conventional battles investigated by Gerteis.


The first book-length examination of its kind, The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History dares to challenge the prevailing opinion that Missouri battles made only minor contributions to the war. Gerteis specifically focuses not only on the principal conventional battles in the state but also on the effects these battles had on both sides’ national aspirations. This work broadens the scope of traditional Civil War studies to include the losses and wins of Missouri, in turn creating a more accurate and encompassing narrative of the nation’s history.
Louis S. Gerteis is Professor of History at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. He is the author or editor of four other books, including most recently St. Louis from Village to Metropolis: Essays from the Missouri Historical Review, 1906–2006. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Title:Civil War in Missouri: A Military HistoryFormat:HardcoverDimensions:296 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:May 1, 2012Publisher:University of Missouri PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0826219721

ISBN - 13:9780826219725


Editorial Reviews

“Louis S. Gerteis sees two troubling and related developments in the historiography of the Civil War in Missouri. First, recent work…‘has overemphasized the role of guerrillas’ such as William C. Quantrill and William T. ‘Bill’ Anderson, often to the neglect of conventional military forces in the state (p. 1). This trend, Gerteis maintains, has contributed to the second problem, the marginalization of Missouri within many Civil War histories, which overlook the part played by organized armies in a state seemingly awash in brutal guerrilla violence. This single-volume narrative history seeks to correct these trends by illuminating conventional warfare in Missouri, which saw more Civil War battles than any state except Virginia and Tennessee, and by assessing Missouri’s broader significance for the trans-Mississippi West and, indeed, the entire nation.”—Journal of Southern History   “Gerteis’ book gives Missouri its due. He traces the characters, battles and strategic geography of Missouri’s war. He leaves the guerrilla conflict to other authors unless it intersects directly with the clashes of armies in uniform….He succeeds in his straightforward goal - to explain a story that often gets left behind in thick tomes about the war.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch “Will go down as the definitive guide to Missouri’s Civil War military history and will prove indispensable for any readers interested in the complex Trans-Mississippi theatre of the war.”—Missouri Historical Review“A very readable and well documented book enhanced by its well-placed maps and pictures. Gerteis really shines in his description of battles, the strategies of opposing generals, and the battles’ consequences.”—Civil War Book Review “The Civil War in Missouri is an easy read, and despite being primarily a military treatment, Gerteis gives us an overview of the political background and the Kansas-Missouri ‘border war.’ He does an effective job of weaving political, economic, and local problems into the overall picture. A useful read for anyone interested in the Civil War.”—The NYMAS Review “Making a case for the national importance of Civil War military campaigns in Missouri, Louis Gerteis portrays the operations of Union and Confederate armies in vivid detail. Although Missouri was notable for the intensity of its guerrilla warfare, this book demonstrates that conventional armies largely determined developments in the state, forming the anchor of Union control in the trans-Mississippi theater.”—James M. McPherson, author of This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War “Gerteis knows Missouri history in the Civil War better than anyone else. This book should bring about an important reconsideration of Missouri’s place in Civil War history. That reconsideration will affect our view not only of the state’s history but of the nature of the whole Civil War.”­—Mark Neely, author of Lincoln and the Triumph of the Nation: Constitutional Conflict in the American Civil War“With this well-written military history of the conflict in Missouri, Louis S. Gerteis fills a long-standing void in state, regional, and national history in relation to the Civil War. He corrects the popular misconception that in Missouri conventional fighting gave way almost entirely to guerrilla war after 1861. Missouri was in fact the scene of the war’s third largest number of engagements (after Virginia and Tennessee), and it was the interplay between conventional and unconventional war that gave the conflict there its particularly horrific nature. This is a most welcome addition to Civil War scholarship.”—William Garrett Piston, editor of A Rough