The History Press, 2014, 160 pp., $19.99
Image courtesy of amazon.com
The state of Missouri faced the third highest amount of engagements during the Civil War, yet there have not been many works about the action which took place there. Not only was the political realm of the state intense, but the true meaning of the saying “Brother against Brother” rings true mostly in the state of Missouri. Larry Wood’s work about the siege of Lexington, Missouri gives us another insight into the combat which happened here during the war. Also known as the Battle of the Hemp Bales, the Siege of Lexington was a battle which defined what would occur in the war for Missouri. This work is a well sourced book with a number of unpublished sources along with a great amount of primary sources.
Larry Wood live in Joplin, Missouri and is a retired school teacher. He is also a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding regions. Wood has also published two historical fiction novels and ten nonfiction history books. Along with writing these books, he has published numerous magazine stories and articles spreading his knowledge not only in the realm of books and novels, but in the print media as well. His other works are The Two Civil War Battles of Newtonia and Civil War Springfield.
The Siege of Lexington, Missouri is part of The History Press’ Civil War Sesquicentennial Series and just as there is with many of the other works, the beginning of this work introduces Lexington before the war and many of the people who helped morph the city into what it was before the war began. As the work heads into the action of the siege, Wood uses a plethora of primary sources which give not only an intense view into the battles but a personal view as well. The reader is also given very coherent maps of Lexington and the surrounding areas in order to give a greater understanding of the combat. One of the other major things in the work which helps the narrative flow is the use of photographs of some of the major players in this siege. Also, maps of the fields themselves are provided from the author’s own collection as well as drawings in the newspapers from the time. There is everything needed in this work which would give the reader a greater understanding as to what happened during the Siege of Lexington. When dealing with a siege, the best way to write about the events are to break up the action into easy to follow steps and Wood does a tremendous job with this. By breaking up the siege itself into multiple chapters and giving some of the smaller battles their own sections helps the readers to understand the timeline of the event.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the events of Missouri during the American Civil War. It has been my firm opinion for some time that the action in Missouri has not truly been given its due in the realm of Civil War academia but now, Larry Wood has given us a new book which helps the study of this state. With this book, Lexington Missouri is given its due.