James W. Erwin
The History Press, 2014, 125 pgs.
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There are many people who consider the Civil War a War in the East and a War in the South, but little is known of Civil War Missouri. It ranks third in amounts of engagements throughout and, much like Maryland, was a hotbed of secessionists activity. What James W. Erwin has done is brought us a work about the many aspects of life on the home front in Missouri which dealt with battles, political strife and issues with Emancipation before and after the Emancipation Proclamation.
James W. Erwin is a native of the state of Missouri and graduated from Missouri State University with a BA in Mathematics. He also served in the United States Army and afterward obtained an MA in history from the University of Missouri and a JD from the University of Missouri Law School. For thirty-seven years, he studied law in St. Louis and to this day, is still a native of the state.
The Homefront in Civil War Missouri is outlined for readers to completely understand the different types of home front issues throughout the war. Whether it was for guerilla warfare or the issues of slavery in the state, everything is clearly laid out for the reader to immediately go to the chapter which sounds interesting to the reader. However, this books works great as a whole to explain what exactly happened in the state. With over a thousand engagements in the period of the war, the state was ravaged not only on a militaristic level, but on a political and social level. Much like Maryland, many Missourians were defined by their loyalty either to the Union or the Confederacy. There were those, also, who did not pledge their loyalty to either side in the war. Those who pledge their loyalty to the Confederacy faced social ridicule and arrest most of which ended up in military commissions. Other parts of the book deal with the problems of Emancipation both before and after the Emancipation Proclamation. The actions of Benjamin Butler at the beginning of the war sparked many issued throughout the political realm not only in Washington, but in Missouri as well. The many different things brought about in this work not only shows the problems throughout Missouri, but the good times as well. One of the highlights of the work was the fair put on by the Sanitary Commission which both Julia Dent Grant and Nellie Grant, he nine year old daughter, raised a good amount of monies. Some of the items in the raffle which were given away are unheard of today including a rosewood piano, bars of silver in Nevada and a farm which had been confiscated for failure of payment. Another interesting point in the book was the amount of women soldiers who fought in the war, including Francis Clayton who not only fought in the war with her husband who died on the field, but posed for pictures later on in her uniform.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in state history in the Civil War. The state of Missouri had many problems throughout the war, but there were also high points for the state throughout the brutal years of guerilla warfare and intervention from the armed forces. The narrative is flowing and interesting throughout and the separation of the subjects gives the reader a clearer idea of the certain issues the author is bringing up in the work. With this work, the Civil War years of Missouri will be preserved in an easily accessible work provided by James W. Erwin.