Civil War Guerilla Leaders

During the American Civil War, groups of so-called “partisan rangers” engaged in bloody campaigns of guerilla attacks, raiding and psychological warfare against rival military units and civilians. These units had tenuous ties to the regular Confederate and Union Armies and were led by men who often operated outside the recognized rules of warfare.

William C. Quantrlll

One of the Civil War’s most infamous figures, William Quantrill spent most of his early life as a schoolteacher and gambler. Shortly after war broke out, Quantrill assembled a ragtag band of guerillas and began harassing and killing Union forces and sympathizers along the Missouri-Kansas border. His exploits earned him the rank of captain from the Confederate Army, but he was also labeled an outlaw by the Union, which viewed his unconventional tactics as illegal and even murderous.

Quantrill’s most brutal attack came in 1863 when he led 450 guerillas on a raid on the Union stronghold of Lawrence, Kansas. In one of the war’s great atrocities, Quantrill and his men burned the town and executed some 200 men. Union forces responded by burning four nearby Missouri counties and driving the citizens off their land. In the confusion that followed, Quantrill’s raiders disbanded and formed smaller guerilla units in Texas and Oklahoma. His forces now weakened, Quantrill continued to operate outside of the Confederate Army, which had withdrawn support following his attack on Lawrence. In 1864 Quantrill briefly assembled a band of soldiers with the intention of riding east and assassinating President Abraham Lincoln, but he abandoned the idea after recognizing the strength of Union defenses. Undeterred, Quantrill continued his bloody raids against Union troops well into 1865, when he was killed in Kentucky after suffering a gunshot wound to the chest.

William T. Anderson

Later known as “Bloody Bill” because of his cold-blooded acts against Union soldiers, William T. Anderson entered the Civil War with a well-established outlaw reputation, having already murdered a judge who had killed his father over accusations of horse theft. Known for his brash behavior and piercing eyes, Anderson took up with William Quantrill’s raiders in 1863 and soon began leading attacks against Union forces. When one of his sisters was captured by U.S. soldiers and then killed in an accidental building collapse, Anderson’s dislike for the Union intensified into pathological hatred. He is known to have personally executed several people during William Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kansas, and his unit’s savage tactics reportedly included cutting off enemies’ ears, decapitation and scalping.

In 1864, Anderson’s band—which included famed outlaw Jesse James—attacked a train in Centralia, Missouri, and butchered 22 unarmed Union soldiers. When Union troops were sent in pursuit, Anderson’s outfit—dressed in stolen Federal uniforms—ambushed them and slaughtered another 120 men. Desperate to put a stop to Anderson’s bloodshed, the Union army eventually raised a small militia to hunt him down. In October of 1864, Anderson’s unit was trapped and outnumbered in Missouri, and “Bloody Bill” was killed when he tried to charge the Union troops.

James H. Lane

James Lane was one of the most famous members of the “Jayhawkers,” a group of pro-Union partisans who operated in Kansas before and during the Civil War. A career politician, Lane was elected as one of Kansas’ first U.S. senators in 1861, but he quickly left the safety of Washington, D.C., and returned to the field. There, he organized fighting units to help combat Confederate bushwhackers who were terrorizing the Missouri-Kansas border.

Known as the “Grim Chieftain,” Lane was as calculating a military leader as he was a politician. In 1861 he orchestrated the sacking of Osceola, Missouri, in which the town was burned and nine residents were executed. The attack—which was not authorized by the Union—drew the ire of Confederate guerilla leaders like William Quantrill, who began to target Lane in raids on Union positions. Worried that Lane’s activities were only serving to galvanize the opposition, in 1862 the Union cancelled his command. Lane continued to play a vital role in the war effort, and later made history when he independently organized the 1st Kansas Volunteer Infantry, the first unit of black soldiers to serve in combat during the Civil War.

John Singleton Mosby

One of the Civil War’s legendary figures, John Mosby was a Confederate colonel whose “hit and run” style of warfare earned him the nickname “the Gray Ghost.” Mosby first entered the war as a private and soon impressed his superiors with his skill at gathering intelligence on Union troop movements. In 1863 J.E.B. Stuart and Robert E. Lee gave Mosby command of a small cavalry unit and unleashed him in central Virginia, where he began tormenting Union positions. A true guerilla force, Mosby’s small posse was known for carrying out blistering attacks on Union outfits and destroying rail lines and bridges before scattering into the woods and blending with the civilian population.

Rather than meeting their enemies in open battle, Mosby’s unit would often slip behind Union lines under cover of darkness and capture soldiers and supplies. In one infamous raid in Fairfax County, Virginia, Mosby’s Rangers crept around Union defenses and proceeded to capture 30 soldiers, 50 horses and several officers without ever firing a shot. According to his memoirs, Mosby personally captured General Edwin H. Stoughton by waking him from his bed with a slap to the back. Mosby continued to operate with impunity in Virginia until the end of the war; the regions he haunted became known as “Mosby’s Confederacy.” When Robert E. Lee surrendered in 1865, Mosby disbanded his unit and returned to civilian life. In a startling move that proved controversial in the South, he went on to join Lincoln’s Republican party and serve in Ulysses S. Grant’s presidential administration as the United States consul to Hong Kong.

Charles Jennison

An ardent abolitionist, Charles Jennison first gained notoriety in the late 1850s as a prominent “Jayhawker”—the moniker assigned to a collection of militant antislavery guerillas in Kansas. At the outset of the Civil War, Jennison organized a small Union force and began waging war on Confederate bushwhackers in Missouri. As ruthless as he was principled, Jennison adopted a “scorched earth” policy of warfare that included razing and looting homesteads that appeared to support Confederate guerillas.

By 1862 Jennison’s attacks had become increasingly indiscriminate—his men were known to rob and gun down Union as well as Confederate sympathizers—and martial law was declared in Kansas. Jennison briefly retired after this controversial period, but he would return to the war in 1863 following William Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kansas. He served until the end of the conflict, at which point he was court-martialed for plundering and discharged from the army. He left military service with a polarizing reputation but went on to serve for several years in the Kansas state legislature.

John McNeill

Along with John Mosby, John McNeill was one of the most effective Confederate guerillas on the Civil War’s eastern front. A native of modern-day West Virginia, he was the leader of McNeill’s Rangers, a small force of roughly 200 men that used guerilla tactics to wreak havoc on Union operations in western Virginia.

Missouri Guerrillas

William Quantrill was born in Ohio and became a schoolteacher. After travels to Utah, Quantrill resided in Lawrence, Kansas. While it is unclear how or why, sometime during this period Quantrill developed a radical hatred of anti-slavery men and women in Kansas known as Jayhawkers. His hatred compelled him to work secretly to gain the trust of a band of Jayhawkers so that in 1858 he could help trap them in an ambush, where he helped in the killing of three.

When the Civil War broke out, Quantrill became the leader of a band of some 400 guerrillas. They terrorized Union soldiers, moving quickly and stealthily. Most famously, Quantrill led a raid on Lawrence, Kansas, where he burned and murdered fathers and sons in a brutal fashion.

Eventually, Quantrill was killed in a conflict in Kentucky following the end of the Civil War. His legacy is a statement to the fiercely divided loyalties of Missourians during the war. He is remembered as a brutal murderer by some, and as a defender against Federal aggression by others.

“Bloody” Bill Anderson

  • Bill Anderson was born in Randolph County, Missouri, in 1840. In 1862, after General Sterling Price was driven from Missouri, Bill Anderson joined William Quantrill’s band of Bushwhackers.
  • In 1864 he broke from Quantrill after a dispute and went on to terrorize Missouri with an independent band.
  • Most notable was his attack at Centralia, Missouri, where he ran into about 20 Union soldiers on leave. He had them stripped, murdered, and mutilated.
  • He was finally killed in October 1864 when a group of Union soldiers led by Colonel Samuel P. Cox found him and shot him from his horse. The brutality of Bloody Bill’s gang was infamous. Members like Frank and Jesse James would continue on and become legendary after the war’s end.

Bill Anderson was born in Randolph County, Missouri, in 1840. In 1862, after General Sterling Price was driven from Missouri, Anderson joined William Quantrill’s band of Bushwhackers. He participated in the raid on Lawrence, Kansas, in retribution for the loss of his sister when a federal prison collapsed—which he believed had been done purposely. It is reported that after the death of his sister, Anderson, who became known as “Bloody Bill Anderson,” became ruthless. Earlier he had been known to release prisoners after he killed all the Union soldiers he caught. He was said to have decorated his horse with the skulls of those he killed, and marked each kill with a knot in a silken cord.

In 1864 he broke from Quantrill after a dispute and went on to terrorize Missouri with an independent band. Most notable was his attack at Centralia, Missouri, where he found about 20 Union soldiers on leave. He had them stripped, murdered, and mutilated. He then defeated a band of 120 Union Calvary that was sent to pursue him.

He finally met his demise in October 1864 when a group of Union soldiers led by Colonel Samuel P. Cox found him and shot him from his horse. The brutality of Bloody Bill’s gang, with such infamous members as Frank and Jesse James, would continue on and become legendary after the war’s end.

Bushwhacker - (in the American Civil War) a guerrilla, especially a Confederate.


In 512 bce the Persian warrior-king Darius I, who ruled the largest empire and commanded the best army in the world, bowed to the hit-and-run tactics of the nomadic Scythians and left them to their lands beyond the Danube. The Macedonian king Alexander the Great (356–323 bce ) also fought serious guerrilla opposition, which he overcame by modifying his tactics and by winning important tribes to his side. In 218 bce the Carthaginian general Hannibal faced considerable guerrilla opposition in crossing the Alps into Italy he was later brought to bay by the delaying military tactics of the Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus, from whom the term Fabian tactics is derived and who earned the surname Cunctator (meaning “Delayer”). The Romans themselves fought against guerrillas in their conquest of Spain for more than 200 years before the foundation of the empire.

Guerrilla and quasi-guerrilla operations were employed in an aggressive role in ensuing centuries by such predatory barbarians as the Goths and the Huns, who forced the Roman Empire onto the defensive the Magyars, who conquered Hungary the hordes of northern barbarians who attacked the Byzantine Empire for more than 500 years the Vikings, who overran Ireland, England, and France and the Mongols, who conquered China and terrified central Europe. In the 12th century the Crusader invasion of Syria was at times stymied by the guerrilla tactics of the Seljuq Turks, a frustration shared by the Normans in their conquest of Ireland (1169–75). A century later, Kublai Khan’s army of Mongols was driven from the area of Vietnam by Tran Hung Dao, who had trained his army to fight guerrilla warfare. King Edward I of England struggled through long, hard, and expensive campaigns to subdue Welsh guerrillas that he failed to conquer Scotland was largely due to the brilliant guerrilla operations of Robert the Bruce (Robert I). Bertrand du Guesclin, a Breton guerrilla leader in the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453), all but pushed the English from France by using Fabian tactics of harassment, surprise, ambush, sudden assault, and slow siege.

Champ Ferguson: An American Civil War Rebel Guerrilla

Esther Frogg knew well the 20-year-old man standing at her front door on November 1, 1861, asking to see her husband, William. The visitor’s name was Champ Ferguson, and he was, like the Froggs, a native of Clinton County, Kentucky. Unlike the Froggs, however, Ferguson supported the Confederacy.

‘How do you do,’ she said and offered him a seat.

‘I don’t have time,’ he replied.

‘Have some apples,’ she said, gesturing toward the fruit she had just been peeling.

‘I have been eating apples,’ he said.

Ferguson did not want to sit. He did not want to eat. He did not want to talk. He wanted only to see William Frogg.

Esther told Ferguson her husband was sick and could not take visitors. But Ferguson was not to be deterred. He walked inside the house, leaving the two men who had come with him outside.

Ferguson approached Frogg’s bed, perhaps noticing the crib nearby where the couple’s five-month-old baby lay. Frogg told his visitor he had the measles. Indeed, he was on sick leave from his regiment, the 12th Kentucky Infantry (Union), though he no doubt withheld that bit of information from Ferguson.

‘I reckon you caught the measles at Camp Dick Robinson,’ Ferguson said. Camp Robinson was a sore point for Kentuckians who sided with the Confederacy. They believed that men recruited there into the Home Guard went on to fight for the Union.

Ferguson was through talking. He shot Frogg dead where he lay.

Frogg was not the first or last person to die at Ferguson’s hands during the war. There were dozens of others. Some of the killings were legitimate acts of combat, but others were nothing more than cold-blooded murder. Many of the victims were Union supporters whom Ferguson sought out more for personal reasons than political ones. In Frogg’s case, Ferguson said he had heard rumors that the pro-Union man was planning to kill him. Ferguson decided on a preemptive strike. ‘I told the boys that I would settle the matter by going direct to Frogg’s house and killing him,’ he later said.

Before the Civil War, Ferguson was known throughout the upper Cumberland Mountains on both sides of the Kentucky-Tennessee border as a ‘gambling, rowdyish, drinking, fighting, quarrelsome man.’ He ranged throughout the region as a hunter and a horse trader, becoming familiar with the whole region.

When the war began, Ferguson immediately sided with the Confederacy. The oldest of 10 children, born on November 29, 1821, he was now starkly at odds with his 9 brothers and sisters and his mother, all of whom supported the Union. The tension only grew when in late 1861 or early 1862, Ferguson moved his family to Sparta, Tennessee, and joined a pro-Southern guerrilla band headed by a local man named Scott Bledsoe. Soon Ferguson was captain of his own band.

Many legends that attempt to explain Ferguson’s ruthless animosity toward his enemies persevere through the efforts of his many admirers in Sparta and White County, Tennessee. In one account, Ferguson hated Yankees and their supporters because Union soldiers had shot his young son dead while the boy played innocently on the front porch, waving a Confederate flag. In reality, Ferguson’s only son died several years before the war began. An even more widely accepted explanation is that 11 Union men had come to his home while Ferguson was out and dishonored his wife and young daughter. The men forced the woman and girl to disrobe and march down the street, the story continued. Even Ferguson called this tale ‘absurd.’

Ferguson himself provided the most feasible explanation for why he entered the war, though it is less romantic than the others. Shortly before the war, he had been arrested for stabbing a constable in a brawl at a camp meeting in Fentress County, Tennessee. ‘When the War broke out,’ he later said, ‘I was induced to join the army on the promise that all prosecution in that case would be abandoned. This is how I came to take up arms.’

Ferguson claimed that all his killings were in self-defense, while admitting that some, like the Frogg shooting, were preemptive attacks. One of them occurred about a month after Frogg’s death. Ferguson and his men went to the home of Reuben Wood, who also lived in Clinton County. Wood met the guerrillas in the road in front of his house. ‘Don’t you beg,’ Ferguson told the older man, ‘and don’t you dodge.’ Wood’s children later testified that their father reminded Ferguson of their past friendship and the fact that he had cared for Ferguson when he was a child. ‘You have always treated me like a gentleman,’ Ferguson said, ‘but you have been to Camp Robinson, and I intend to kill you.’ Reuben Wood did not die easily. Even fatally wounded he managed to knock Ferguson’s gun away with a hatchet and escape. Wood died two days later.

‘Reuben Wood and I were always good friends before the War,’ Ferguson said, ‘but after that he was connected with the same company in which my brother, Jim, was operating. I knew that he intended killing me if he ever got a chance. They both hunted me down, and drove me fairly to desperation.

‘On the day that he was killed, we met him in the road and he commenced on me, and I believe he intended to shoot me. The touching story about his piteous appeals to me — that he had nursed me when a babe, and tossed me on his knee — are false, and were gotten up expressly to create sympathy, and set me forth as a heartless wretch. If I had not shot Reuben Wood, I would not likely have been here, for he would have shot me. I never expressed a regret for committing the act, and never will. He was in open war against me.’

In 1862, Ferguson began his long-running war with a man named David Beaty, who would become his greatest enemy. The Nashville Dispatch noted that Beaty ‘fought Champ Ferguson from the beginning to the end of his career…. They have shot at each other innumerable times, and each has received ugly wounds. They were deadly enemies, and hunted each other down with savage ferocity.’

Known to his neighbors in Fentress County, Tennessee, as Tinker Dave, Beaty (also spelled Beatty) was as ruthless and vicious in his defense of the Union as Ferguson was of the Confederacy. Local legend tells of the time he shot a man and then directed his horse to step on the unfortunate victim’s face.

Beaty became a guerrilla in early 1862. About February 1, Bledsoe’s men warned Beaty to take sides or leave the country. At this point in the war, Bledsoe and Ferguson were, according to Beaty, ‘conscripting, killing, and shooting at Union men in general, including myself.’ Beaty responded to the threat by choosing the other side and raising his own band of guerrillas. His men lived in the woods like Ferguson’s and practiced the same tactics. These enemies skirmished often.

Given the opportunity, Ferguson and Beaty would no doubt have eagerly cut each other’s throat, but they did share a mutual respect. Perhaps they sensed they were kindred spirits who had more in common with each other than with polite society or the military establishment.

By the spring of 1862, relatively few major military engagements had taken place in Tennessee, but the Cumberland Mountains were filled with violence. Roaming bands of outlaws took advantage of the war to steal whatever they wanted with no regard for their victims’ politics. It was not uncommon for these outlaws simply to declare a man an enemy sympathizer and then take his possessions or even kill him. Families, friends, and neighbors were so passionately divided that even idle rumors questioning a man’s alignment could soon lead to his death. Many prudent people avoided their own homes.

In the middle of all this chaos stood Champ Ferguson. Many of the Union men he took prisoner — some in the army, some not — were found shot and often stabbed through the heart. Ferguson favored the Bowie knife and often finished his victims off with one. There were rumors of decapitations.

On April 1, 1862, Ferguson encountered 16-year-old Fount Zachery in Fentress County. Zachery was carrying a shotgun. He surrendered the weapon, but Ferguson shot him anyway. Almost as soon as Zachery hit the ground, Ferguson was on him with his Bowie knife, and Fount Zachery became the first of four Zachery males to fall to Ferguson. Ferguson justified his actions by claiming he had official orders to kill any armed man in the area.

Over the next few weeks, Ferguson’s men killed their leader’s cousin Alexander Huff in Fentress County Union guerrilla Elijah Kogier in Clinton County, whom they shot down as his young daughter clung to him and Fount Zachery’s grandfather James. James Zachery’s daughter Esther would testify that she saw Ferguson chasing her father through the family orchard, yelling to his men, ‘Shoot him, damn him, shoot him!’

Toward the end of April, Colonel John Hunt Morgan’s Kentucky cavalry passed through Sparta, Tennessee, and Ferguson and some of his men joined the force to serve as scouts. Morgan’s men crowded around Ferguson, eager to get a glimpse of the notorious outlaw whose exploits were already becoming legend in the region. Ferguson and several of his guerrillas rode with Morgan on some raids, fighting at Tomkinsville, Lebanon, and Cynthiana, Kentucky, and on June 21 at Gallatin, Tennessee.

Ferguson became well acquainted with Morgan’s second in command and brother-in-law, Major Basil W. Duke. Duke warned his infamous scout that there would be no abusing of prisoners. Ferguson was indignant. He assured Duke he would never harm regularly commissioned officers captured in combat, because he had nothing personally against them ‘except that they are wrong, and oughtn’t to come down here and fight our people.’ He admitted, though, that if he came across any ‘hounds’ he had just reasons to kill, he would not hesitate to kill them.

By the fall of 1862, Ferguson had focused himself almost exclusively on personal vendettas. In October, he killed a man named Wash Tabor, whom he suspected of ambushing and killing three of his men. Ferguson did not harm others captured along with Tabor. He explained to prisoner George Thrasher, ‘I’m not in favor of killing you, Thrasher, you have never been bushwhacking or stealing horses. I have killed old Wash Tabor, a damned good Christian, and I don’t reckon he minds dying.’ On a later occasion, the mother of one of Ferguson’s prisoners, John Crabtree, begged for her son’s life, but the guerrilla leader told her that her concern was too late in coming. The time to worry was years ago, he suggested, when she still had the chance to raise her son right.

Several of Ferguson’s victims belonged to the 7th Tennessee Infantry (Union). So it is not surprising that the commander of that regiment, Colonel William Clift, was eager to attack the independent Rebel bands trolling the Tennessee-Kentucky border. ‘I deem it highly indispensable to break up these guerrilla companies as speedily as possible, as there can be no safety to the peace of the country while they are permitted to exist,’ he said.

On December 15, Union XIV Corps commander Major General William Rosecrans issued an order allowing Major General George H. Thomas, commander of the center of the XIV Corps, to send Colonel Frank Wolford’s 1st Kentucky Cavalry after Ferguson and another Tennessee guerrilla, Oliver Hamilton of Overton County. ‘Colonel Wolford has permission to pursue and capture Hamilton and Ferguson,’ Rosecrans wrote, ‘but let him be careful not to get caught himself.’ Nothing came of Wolford’s ambitions to snare the guerrilla chief.

On New Year’s Night 1863, Ferguson set out to rid himself of some of his most troublesome enemies in Kentucky. The first to fall was Union guerrilla Elam Huddleston. After an hour-long gunfight between Confederate guerrillas and the Huddleston brothers Elam and Moses, aided by their cousin David Huddleston, Ferguson killed his intended victim at his house. Next to die were the Zachery brothers Peter and Allen, sons of James Zachery. Ferguson killed Peter with his knife after a fierce hand-to-hand struggle.

Ferguson’s private feuds were suspended for a while after the Huddleston fight, because he was too busy tangling with the regular Federal army. Over the next two years, his guerrilla band, which now numbered in the dozens and sometimes in the hundreds, would harry Union forces and sometimes augment Confederate cavalry regiments.

By the second half of the war, the Federals were clamping down on guerrilla strongholds, especially Sparta, Tennessee. Colonel Thomas J. Harrison’s 8th Indiana Cavalry and Colonel William B. Stokes’s 5th Tennessee Cavalry scoured the area, skirmishing with partisans and raiding Ferguson’s farm twice. Ferguson was not home either time, having left to join forces with George Carter of Spencer, Tennessee, to raid Fentress County. The raid resulted in the death of Beaty’s son Dallas, among others.

On February 18, 1864, Stokes took possession of Sparta. The Union soldiers and the local Confederate partisans clashed often from then on. Ferguson fought at Calfkiller in White County on February 22 and was wounded in another engagement on March 11. No details are available about his wound. Soldiers of the 5th Tennessee Cavalry killed Scott Bledsoe, Ferguson’s old comrade, that March.

The Confederate guerrillas continued to destroy property and steal Federal stock. Major Thomas H. Reeves of the 4th Tennessee Infantry (Union), angry that the citizens of Sparta continued to secretly aid the Rebel guerrillas, took his command into town on July 15. He declared martial law and had every man he found arrested. The anguished denizens expected their town to be destroyed, but the 4th left the next day with only nine prisoners. According to Reeves, his men could boast of ‘unparalleled plunder.’

Within weeks, Union guerrillas had burned Ferguson’s home to the ground. Ferguson and his comrades headed south and joined themselves to Major General Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry. They were then detached from Wheeler’s command and ordered to report to Major General John C. Breckinridge in southwest Virginia.

It was in Emory, Virginia, that Ferguson committed his most infamous murder. Ferguson and his men were with a small Confederate force at Saltville, Virginia, on October 2, 1864, when a Federal cavalry attacked. The Confederates put up a spirited resistance, and after a sharp fight, the Federals withdrew. The next morning at Emory, Ferguson and his lieutenant Rains Philpot entered the Confederate hospital where Federal wounded and prisoners had been taken. Some of those same soldiers later testified they had seen Ferguson coldly killing prisoners on the battlefield, especially black men and white men in their vicinity.

At the hospital, Ferguson shot Lieutenant Elza C. Smith of the 13th Kentucky Cavalry while he lay a helpless prisoner. Ferguson may have suspected that Smith had killed his comrade Oliver P. Hamilton while Hamilton was trying to surrender. ‘I have a begrudge against Smith,’ Ferguson was heard saying as he searched for Smith’s bed. ‘We’ll find him.’ The killing of wounded men and prisoners that Ferguson and his men did that day would go down in history as the Saltville Massacre.

The four-year quasi-military career of Champ Ferguson came to an end on May 26, 1865, when he was taken into Federal custody in Sparta. Ferguson claimed he had surrendered, while Colonel Joseph Blackburn of the 5th Tennessee Mounted Infantry claimed to have captured him.

Ferguson thought he would be paroled, as were other guerrillas who surrendered. What he did not realize was that the Federal government had singled him out, specifying that any attempt by him to surrender should be refused. He was taken to prison in Nashville and soon became the focus of a sensational military trial. He was charged with being a guerrilla and a murderer.

A long line of witnesses appeared against him. One was his archnemesis, Beaty. Afterward, a reporter asked Ferguson what he thought of Beaty. ‘Well, there are meaner men than Tinker Dave,’ Ferguson responded. ‘He fought me bravely and gave me some heavy licks, but I always gave him as good as he sent. I have nothing against Tinker Dave…. We both tried to get each other during the War, but we always proved too cunning for each other.’ He noted that he was a skilled shooter who always hit his mark, except when the mark was Beaty.

When the time came for Ferguson’s defense, he could muster only a handful of character witnesses. One was Joseph Wheeler, but support from even this well-respected general was not enough to sway the court. On October 10, Ferguson was found guilty and sentenced to hang.

‘I was a Southern man at the start,’ Ferguson said in his final statement. ‘I am yet, and will die a Rebel. I believe I was right in all I did.’ He reiterated that he had killed only those who had intended to kill him and that he had treated prisoners the way his own men had been treated by the enemy. ‘I repeat that I die a Rebel out and out, and my last request is that my body be removed to White County, Tennessee, and be buried in good Rebel soil.’

Ferguson was hanged on October 20, his wife and tearful 16-year-old daughter watching as his lifeless body dangled at the end of the rope.

Ferguson’s bloody war record reveals him to be a murderer who deserved his fate. Still, many of his contemporaries were no better than he, including some men on the pro-Union side, yet they escaped similar retribution. Beaty admitted he had taken up arms for the Union government without pay, which by definition made him a guerrilla. He could have suffered the same fate as Ferguson. Clearly, a double standard was being applied. Indeed, when pro-Union newspapers in Nashville covered the Ferguson trial, they referred to the defendant as ‘the monstrous criminal’ and Beaty as ‘the celebrated Union scout.’

After Tennessee was readmitted to the Union, Beaty became a respected citizen of the state. He even served as a member of the county court when he returned to Jamestown.

The irony of the similarities between Beaty and Ferguson could not have escaped Ferguson’s defenders. The same deeds that made a man a criminal could make him a hero if his side won.

This article was written by Troy D. Smith and originally published in the December 2001 issue of Civil War Times Magazine.

For more great articles, be sure to subscribe to Civil War Times magazine today!

This NC man was one of the most important Civil War leaders, but he was erased from history for 100 years

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- One of the most important African American leaders of the late 1800s was born in North Carolina, but his accomplishments and influence vanished from history for 100 years.

Abraham Galloway was a spy, an insurgent, a statesman, a fierce advocate of the working class and a warrior against oppression and tyranny.

"When he did speaking tours in the North, he didn't introduce Frederick Douglass as the main speaker of the night. Frederick Douglass introduced him as the main speaker of the night," historian Dr. David Cecelski said.

Yet today, Frederick Douglass is a household name and central figure of study in American history, while Abraham Galloway is hardly known.

When Galloway died in 1870, approximately 6,000 people attended his funeral. Newspapers at the time reported that it was the largest funeral in North Carolina history.

"Everybody knew who Abraham Galloway was at that point," Cecelski said.

Galloway was a war hero. He was a nationally known speaker. He was one of the first African Americans elected to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly. But check North Carolina history books, museums and classrooms from the 1900s into the 2000s and you will find hardly a whisper of one of the state's most influential sons.

"What happened--and it's a central part of North Carolina history--is that beginning in the 1890s early part of the 1900s, we get a new vision of what our past was like. In a way it was kind of the vision of North Carolina history that I grew up with," Cecelski said. "Docile black people, happy slaves--in that vision of our history, there's no room for a man like Abraham Galloway. He was a proud African American insurgent. Brilliant. Who fought like one of the great guerilla leaders of world history for the freedom of his people."

Galloway was a hard man to please he was fearless. He was known for always having two pistols in his belt where everybody could see them, and he would challenge people that crossed him to duels in the street. But he was also a man with a sarcastic sense of humor, who loved to laugh loudly and often.

'He laughed loud and often:' The life philosophy of Abraham Galloway

'He laughed loud and often': The life philosophy of Abraham Galloway

Cecelski was researching a book when he kept running across stories about a man who seemed larger than life: a 19th century James Bond.

"I almost couldn't believe (the stories)," Cecelski said. "They were so not like what I was taught about the history of slavery, not like what I was taught about the history of the Civil War, not like what I was taught about African American history."

Galloway was born in 1837 in what is now Southport, North Carolina. His mother was enslaved his father was a white man. He grew up in a world where he had to learn spy skills just to survive.

"Union generals later said this about Galloway and other African American spies: They said it is as if they were born to be spies," Cecelski said. "They had developed that -- just living through slavery gave them the most basic skills they needed. The ability to put up a false face. You know, to take on-to blend into surroundings, to conceal themselves."

At the age of 19, Galloway escaped to the North hidden on a ship. He worked for a while going back into the South and helping other enslaved people escape to the North.

As the Civil War began, the Union Army realized it needed better military intelligence inside the South. Abraham Galloway was the perfect type of spy they needed.

He spent his mid-20s setting up a network of spies in the South, passing information to the Union Army, and even going hundreds of miles into Confederate territory to rescue his mother.

During this time, Galloway goes from being a sort of master spy to being a leading African American political leader.

He created the first Civil Rights groups in the South during the war. He led a delegation of African American men from the South to the White House to pressure President Abraham Lincoln into promising political equality and full citizenship to African Americans if the Union wins the Civil War.

WATCH: Cecelski talks about the importance of Galloway's meeting with Lincoln

WATCH: Cecelski talks about the importance of Galloway's meeting with Lincoln

"And basically they succeed in that," Cecelski said. "It may not have been everything they wanted after the war. It may not have been every goal accomplished, but they brought millions of people out of enslavement. And from the beginning-and this was eye-opening for me-it was southern blacks, men and women like Galloway, who were leading that push. It wasn't white abolitionist up North, it wasn't freed black people from the North, it was people who were fighting in the trenches in little places like Kinston and Durham and around the South. People like Galloway who risked their lives day in and day out. "

In 1868, Galloway was elected state Senator in North Carolina as part of the group of first African Americans representatives.

"In the General Assembly he worked for labor rights, issues familiar to us today: minimum wages, regulate hours of work. He introduced the first amendments for women's suffrage," Cecelski said.

The man born into enslavement, who had been forbidden to learn to read or write, was now one of the most influential men in North Carolina.

But his life ended abruptly. He died at the age of 33 from fever and jaundice.

"If we can miss Abraham Galloway -- and nobody knew who he was 10 years ago, 20 years ago -- who knows what else we've missed," Cecelski said. "I think, particularly for young people, for students, the excitement and importance of that kind of historical discovery awaits them. And I don't just mean, I mean, yes, with African American history, but also all kinds of things. In many ways we have been denied much of the best parts of our past and places and things that happened that we can draw strength from, inspiration from, get a better vision of who we are as we try to fashion a future in this crazy new world that we're in."

Despite being erased from history for nearly 100 years, Galloway's life story is now making its way back into history books. Wilmington recently put up a historical marker near where he lived. His story can also be found in the North Carolina Museum of History.

To learn more about Abraham Galloway, consider reading Cecelski's book The Fire of Freedom.

Guerrilla Warfare

Guerrilla's raid a Missouri town. Library of Congress

Throughout the American Civil War, as vast armies in blue and gray clashed on conventional battlefields, a drastically different kind of conflict was raging as well: a bloody guerrilla war that erupted in the South in response to Federal invasion. Characterized by ambushes, surprise raids, and irregular styles of combat, this guerrilla war became savage, chaotic, and often disorganized. The guerrilla war, as waged by both Confederate guerrillas and Unionists in the South, gathered in intensity between 1861 and 1865 and had a profound impact on the outcome of the war.

As soon as the Civil War broke out in April 1861, guerrilla warfare emerged as a popular alternative to enlistment in the Confederate army. Fearful of the imminent Federal invasion, secessionist civilians throughout the Midwest, upper South, and Deep South wasted no time organizing themselves into guerrilla bands to independently resist Yankee occupation. Fighting as a guerrilla was attractive: it would allow men more freedom than they would enjoy in the regular army, and most importantly, would allow them to remain at home to defend their families and communities.

"Bloody Bill" Anderson, a notorious Missouri bushwhacker. Wikimedia Commons

Several different kinds of guerrillas emerged during the Civil War. The majority of Civil War guerrillas were called bushwhackers, so named because of their tendency to hide behind foliage and forest lines, what Union soldiers referred to as "the bush," and attack their foes. Bushwhackers were un-uniformed civilian resisters, who had no affiliation with the Confederate army, and were a source of constant confusion for the Union army who had no way of distinguishing a peaceful Southern civilian from one who would attack them later. Partisan rangers arose as a more legitimate kind of guerrilla in 1862 when they were sanctioned by the Confederate Congress’ passage of the Partisan Ranger Act, an act which allowed men to enlist for service in a partisan corps rather than the regular army. Partisans were groups of men who, like the bushwhackers, operated independently and with irregular tactics, yet they wore Confederate uniforms, had leaders who held Confederate commissions, and were responsible for reporting to a superior in the Confederate army.

Owing to the large difference between bushwhackers and partisan rangers, the Union Army was initially unsure of how they should deal with guerrillas. In 1862, Gen. Henry Halleck issued the Lieber Code, which was written by philosopher Dr. Francis Lieber and issued to Union commanders as General Orders No. 100. The Lieber Code detailed the differences between bushwhackers and partisans, and stated that bushwhackers were illegal combatants, and could be shot if captured. Since partisans belonged, however loosely, to the Confederate Army, they had to be treated as prisoners of war.

Famous Jayhawker James Lane, leader of "Lane's Brigade." Library of Congress

The Civil War has often been characterized as a brother’s war in which neighbor fought against neighbor, and this interpretation certainly applies to the war’s guerrilla element. Throughout the South, Unionist sympathizers organized in small numbers as guerrillas to defend themselves against secessionist members of their communities. Typically referred to as Jayhawkers in the Midwest and Buffaloes in the East, these Unionist guerillas took up arms against the bushwhackers. Although they would play a relatively minor role throughout the war, their Confederate guerrilla counterparts would significantly impact the Civil War in nearly every Southern state.

In every section of the Confederacy, the guerrilla war took on its own shade and character. It emerged early on at its most intense in the Midwest, exploding in early 1861 in Missouri. It immediately became savage and barbaric, fought mainly by bushwhackers who behaved more like outlaws. Men such as William Clarke Quantrill and William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson carried out raids which amounted to little more than murder sprees. In 1863, Quantrill killed 200 men and boys in the Unionist town of Lawrence, Kansas, and in 1864, Anderson led the famous Centralia Massacre, in which his men – including a young Jesse James – pulled 24 unarmed Union soldiers off a train and executed them. Unionist Jayhawkers would post an equal threat to Midwestern society as they preyed on secessionist families and attempted to wipe out the Confederate bushwhackers.

Quantrill and his men raid Lawrence, Kansas. Library of Congress

Guerrillas and partisan rangers in the east, however, focused their attention on harassing the Yankee invaders, and soon emerged as a real and constant threat to the Union army. These irregulars attacked Union pickets and small, vulnerable groups of Union men. They intercepted Union supplies, cut communication lines, destroyed rail cars and railroad track, carried out surprise raids, and often donned blue uniforms to invade Yankee camps. These tactics frightened and demoralized Union soldiers, a phenomenon which came to a head in 1863 with the formation of Col. John Singleton Mosby’s 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry, a partisan ranger band. Known as the Gray Ghost, Mosby defied Union troops stationed in Virginia for two years. So incapable were the Federals at putting a stop to Mosby’s activities that by the end of 1863 Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley became known as “Mosby’s Confederacy.”

Mosby's Rangers on a raid in the Shenandoah Valley James E. Taylor

The efforts of guerrillas to antagonize the Union army were undeniably successful. In response, Union commanders tried sending out scouting parties to capture the guerrillas. These attempts, however, accomplished little. Guerrillas, who had the advantage of surprise and knowledge of the territory, were nearly impossible to catch and efforts to capture them only distracted soldiers from fighting the Confederate army. Their inability to stop the guerrillas who continued to destroy Union supplies and kill Union men encouraged a growing dislike among Northern soldiers for the Southern population from which the guerrillas came. By late 1862, the Union Army, overwhelmed by fighting a conventional army in their front and a guerrilla threat from all sides, began to meet guerrilla action with “hard war” policies. Union commanders began to hold civilians responsible for the actions of guerrillas, often by burning homes and communities, arresting civilian non-combatants, and in some cases evacuating entire counties. By 1865, the guerrilla war throughout the South had become confused, bloody, and disorganized. The Union Army had ceased to tolerate guerrillas, and met their attacks unhesitatingly with retaliation. Civilians, exhausted by the violence in their communities and hopeful of preventing Federal retaliation against their homes, lost their support for the guerrilla movement and it soon began to die out.

Despite the significant role that guerrillas played during the war, academically they have received very little attention. Early Civil War historians characterized guerrillas as interesting yet irrelevant, and as a result the importance of guerrillas during the Civil War has been largely understated. Today, however, historians are beginning to recognize the role that guerrillas played in shaping both the outcome of the war and wartime society. Guerrillas, whether they fought as bushwhackers, jayhawkers, or partisan rangers, influenced both the Confederate home front and Union military policy, and proved to be important, if slightly overlooked, figures in the American Civil War.

Ash, Stephen V. When the Yankees Came: Conflict and Chaos in the Occupied South, 1861-1865. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Grimsley, Mark. The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Mackey, Robert R. The UnCivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 1861-1865. Norman: The University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.

Sutherland, Daniel E. A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

The True Story of the ‘Free State of Jones’

With two rat terriers trotting at his heels, and a long wooden staff in his hand, J.R. Gavin leads me through the woods to one of the old swamp hide-outs. A tall white man with a deep Southern drawl, Gavin has a stern presence, gracious manners and intense brooding eyes. At first I mistook him for a preacher, but he’s a retired electronic engineer who writes self-published novels about the rapture and apocalypse. One of them is titled Sal Batree, after the place he wants to show me.

I’m here in Jones County, Mississippi, to breathe in the historical vapors left by Newton Knight, a poor white farmer who led an extraordinary rebellion during the Civil War. With a company of like-minded white men in southeast Mississippi, he did what many Southerners now regard as unthinkable. He waged guerrilla war against the Confederacy and declared loyalty to the Union.

In the spring of 1864, the Knight Company overthrew the Confederate authorities in Jones County and raised the United States flag over the county courthouse in Ellisville. The county was known as the Free State of Jones, and some say it actually seceded from the Confederacy. This little-known, counterintuitive episode in American history has now been brought to the screen in Free State of Jones, directed by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games) and starring a grimy, scruffed-up Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight.

Knight and his men, says Gavin, hooking away an enormous spider web with his staff and warning me to be careful of snakes, “had a number of different hide-outs. The old folks call this one Sal Batree. Sal was the name of Newt’s shotgun, and originally it was Sal’s Battery, but it got corrupted over the years.”

We reach a small promontory surrounded on three sides by a swampy, beaver-dammed lake, and concealed by 12-foot-high cattails and reeds. “I can’t be certain, but a 90-year-old man named Odell Holyfield told me this was the place,” says Gavin. “He said they had a gate in the reeds that a man on horseback could ride through. He said they had a password, and if you got it wrong, they’d kill you. I don’t know how much of that is true, but one of these days I’ll come here with a metal detector and see what I can find.”

On his property, Jones County’s J. R. Gavin points out a site that was a hide-out for Newt Knight. “The Confederates kept sending in troops to wipe out old Newt and his boys,” says Gavin, “but they’d just melt into the swamps.” (William Widmer)

We make our way around the lakeshore, passing beaver-gnawed tree stumps and snaky-looking thickets. Reaching higher ground, Gavin points across the swamp to various local landmarks. Then he plants his staff on the ground and turns to face me directly.

“Now I’m going to say something that might offend you,” he begins, and proceeds to do just that, by referring in racist terms to “Newt’s descendants” in nearby Soso, saying some of them are so light-skinned “you look at them and you just don’t know.”

I stand there writing it down and thinking about William Faulkner, whose novels are strewn with characters who look white but are deemed black by Mississippi’s fanatical obsession with the one-drop rule. And not for the first time in Jones County, where arguments still rage about a man born 179 years ago, I recall Faulkner’s famous axiom about history: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

After the Civil War, Knight took up with his grandfather’s former slave Rachel they had five children together. Knight also fathered nine children with his white wife, Serena, and the two families lived in different houses on the same 160-acre farm. After he and Serena separated—they never divorced—Newt Knight caused a scandal that still reverberates by entering a common-law marriage with Rachel and proudly claiming their mixed-race children.

The Knight Negroes, as these children were known, were shunned by whites and blacks alike. Unable to find marriage partners in the community, they started marrying their white cousins instead, with Newt’s encouragement. (Newt’s son Mat, for instance, married one of Rachel’s daughters by another man, and Newt’s daughter Molly married one of Rachel’s sons by another man.) An interracial community began to form near the small town of Soso, and continued to marry within itself.

“They keep to themselves over there,” says Gavin, striding back toward his house, where supplies of canned food and muscadine wine are stored up for the onset of Armageddon. “A lot of people find it easier to forgive Newt for fighting Confederates than mixing blood.”

I came to Jones County having read some good books about its history, and knowing very little about its present-day reality. It was reputed to be fiercely racist and conservative, even by Mississippi standards, and it had been a hotbed for the Ku Klux Klan. But Mississippi is nothing if not layered and contradictory, and this small, rural county has also produced some wonderful creative and artistic talents, including Parker Posey, the indie-film queen, the novelist Jonathan Odell, the pop singer and gay astronaut Lance Bass, and Mark Landis, the schizophrenic art forger and prankster, who donated fraudulent masterpieces to major American art museums for nearly 30 years before he was caught.

Subscribe to Smithsonian magazine now for just $12

This story is a selection from the March issue of Smithsonian magazine

Driving toward the Jones County line, I passed a sign to Hot Coffee—a town, not a beverage—and drove on through rolling cattle pastures and short, new-growth pine trees. There were isolated farmhouses and prim little country churches, and occasional dilapidated trailers with dismembered automobiles in the front yard. In Newt Knight’s day, all this was a primeval forest of enormous longleaf pines so thick around the base that three or four men could circle their arms around them. This part of Mississippi was dubbed the Piney Woods, known for its poverty and lack of prospects. The big trees were an ordeal to clear, the sandy soil was ill-suited for growing cotton, and the bottomlands were choked with swamps and thickets.

There was some very modest cotton production in the area, and a small slaveholding elite that included Newt Knight’s grandfather, but Jones County had fewer slaves than any other county in Mississippi, only 12 percent of its population. This, more than anything, explains its widespread disloyalty to the Confederacy, but there was also a surly, clannish independent spirit, and in Newt Knight, an extraordinarily steadfast and skillful leader.

On the county line, I was half-expecting a sign reading “Welcome to the Free State of Jones” or “Home of Newton Knight,” but the Confederacy is now revered by some whites in the area, and the chamber of commerce had opted for a less controversial slogan: “Now This Is Living!” Most of Jones County is rural, low- or modest-income roughly 70 percent of the population is white. I drove past many small chicken farms, a large modern factory making transformers and computers, and innumerable Baptist churches. Laurel, the biggest town, stands apart. Known as the City Beautiful, it was created by Midwestern timber barons who razed the longleaf pine forests and built themselves elegant homes on oak-lined streets and the gorgeous world-class Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.

The old county seat, and ground zero for the Free State of Jones, is Ellisville, now a pleasant, leafy town of 4,500 people. Downtown has some old brick buildings with wrought-iron balconies. The grand old columned courthouse has a Confederate monument next to it, and no mention of the anti-Confederate rebellion that took place here. Modern Ellisville is dominated by the sprawling campus of Jones County Junior College, where a semiretired history professor named Wyatt Moulds was waiting for me in the entrance hall. A direct descendant of Newt Knight’s grandfather, he was heavily involved in researching the film and ensuring its historical accuracy.

A large, friendly, charismatic man with unruly side-parted hair, he was wearing alligator-skin cowboy boots and a fishing shirt. “I’m one of the few liberals you’re going to meet here, but I’m a Piney Woods liberal,” he said. “I voted for Obama, I hunt and I love guns. It’s part of the culture here. Even the liberals carry handguns.”

For Wyatt Moulds the film is “an idea whose time has come.” (William Widmer) (Guilbert Gates) A fading mural in Ellisville depicts the town's history. (William Widmer) A tattered American flag hangs from a tree in the unincorporated community of Crackers Neck, near Ellisville. For a few years after the war, Ellisville was known as Leesville in memory of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. (William Widmer)

He described Jones County as the most conservative place in Mississippi, but he noted that race relations were improving and that you could see it clearly in the changing attitudes toward Newt Knight. “It’s generational,” he said. “A lot of older people see Newt as a traitor and a reprobate, and they don’t understand why anyone would want to make a movie about him. If you point out that Newt distributed food to starving people, and was known as the Robin Hood of the Piney Woods, they’ll tell you he married a black, like that trumps everything. And they won’t use the word ‘black.’”

His current crop of students, on the other hand, are “fired up” about Newt and the movie. “Blacks and whites date each other in high school now, and they don’t think it’s a big deal,” said Moulds. “That’s a huge change. Some of the young guys are really identifying with Newt now, as a symbol of Jones County pride. It doesn’t hurt that he was such a badass.”

Knight was 6-foot-4 with black curly hair and a full beard—“big heavyset man, quick as a cat,” as one of his friends described him. He was a nightmarish opponent in a backwoods wrestling match, and one of the great unsung guerrilla fighters in American history. So many men tried so hard to kill him that perhaps his most remarkable achievement was to reach old age.

“He was a Primitive Baptist who didn’t drink, didn’t cuss, doted on children and could reload and fire a double-barreled, muzzle-loading shotgun faster than anyone else around,” said Moulds. “Even as an old man, if someone rubbed him the wrong way, he’d have a knife at their throat in a heartbeat. A lot of people will tell you that Newt was just a renegade, out for himself, but there’s good evidence that he was a man of strong principles who was against secession, against slavery and pro-Union.”

Those views were not unusual in Jones County. Newt’s right-hand man, Jasper Collins, came from a big family of staunch Mississippi Unionists. He later named his son Ulysses Sherman Collins, after his two favorite Yankee generals, Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. “Down here, that’s like naming your son Adolf Hitler Collins,” said Moulds.

When secession fever swept across the South in 1860, Jones County was largely immune to it. Its secessionist candidate received only 24 votes, while the “cooperationist” candidate, John H. Powell, received 374. When Powell got to the secession convention in Jackson, however, he lost his nerve and voted to secede along with almost everyone else. Powell stayed away from Jones County for a while after that, and he was burned in effigy in Ellisville.

“In the Lost Cause mythology, the South was united, and secession had nothing to do with slavery,” said Moulds. “What happened in Jones County puts the lie to that, so the Lost Causers have to paint Newt as a common outlaw, and above all else, deny all traces of Unionism. With the movie coming out, they’re at it harder than ever.”

Although he was against secession, Knight voluntarily enlisted in the Confederate Army once the war began. We can only speculate about his reasons. He kept no diary and gave only one interview near the end of his life, to a New Orleans journalist named Meigs Frost. Knight said he’d enlisted with a group of local men to avoid being conscripted and then split up into different companies. But the leading scholar of the Knight-led rebellion, Victoria Bynum, author of The Free State of Jones, points out that Knight had enlisted, under no threat of conscription, a few months after the war began, in July 1861. She thinks he relished being a soldier.

The Free State of Jones: Mississippi's Longest Civil War

Victoria Bynum traces the origins and legacy of the Jones County uprising from the American Revolution to the modern civil rights movement. In bridging the gap between the legendary and the real Free State of Jones, she shows how the legend reveals a great deal about the South's transition from slavery to segregation.

In October 1862, after the Confederate defeat at Corinth, Knight and many other Piney Woods men deserted from the Seventh Battalion of Mississippi Infantry. It wasn’t just the starvation rations, arrogant harebrained leadership and appalling carnage. They were disgusted and angry about the recently passed “Twenty Negro Law,” which exempted one white male for every 20 slaves owned on a plantation, from serving in the Confederate Army. Jasper Collins echoed many non-slaveholders across the South when he said, “This law. makes it a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”

Returning home, they found their wives struggling to keep up the farms and feed the children. Even more aggravating, the Confederate authorities had imposed an abusive, corrupt “tax in kind” system, by which they took what they wanted for the war effort— horses, hogs, chickens, corn, meat from the smokehouses, homespun cloth. A Confederate colonel named William N. Brown reported that corrupt tax officials had “done more to demoralize Jones County than the whole Yankee Army.”

In early 1863, Knight was captured for desertion and possibly tortured. Some scholars think he was pressed back into service for the Siege of Vicksburg, but there’s no solid evidence that he was there. After Vicksburg fell, in July 1863, there was a mass exodus of deserters from the Confederate Army, including many from Jones and the surrounding counties. The following month, Confederate Maj. Amos McLemore arrived in Ellisville and began hunting them down with soldiers and hounds. By October, he had captured more than 100 deserters, and exchanged threatening messages with Newt Knight, who was back on his ruined farm on the Jasper County border.

On the night of October 5, Major McLemore was staying at his friend Amos Deason’s mansion in Ellisville, when someone—almost certainly Newt Knight—burst in and shot him to death. Soon afterward, there was a mass meeting of deserters from four Piney Woods counties. They organized themselves into a company called the Jones County Scouts and unanimously elected Knight as their captain. They vowed to resist capture, defy tax collectors, defend each other’s homes and farms, and do what they could to aid the Union.

Neo-Confederate historians have denied the Scouts’ loyalty to the Union up and down, but it was accepted by local Confederates at the time. “They were Union soldiers from principle,” Maj. Joel E. Welborn, their former commanding officer in the Seventh Mississippi, later recalled. “They were making an effort to be mustered into the U.S. Service.” Indeed, several of the Jones County Scouts later succeeded in joining the Union Army in New Orleans.

In March 1864, Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk informed Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, that Jones County was in “open rebellion” and that guerrilla fighters were “proclaiming themselves ‘Southern Yankees.’” They had crippled the tax collection system, seized and redistributed Confederate supplies, and killed and driven out Confederate officials and loyalists, not just in Jones County but all over southeast Mississippi. Confederate Capt. Wirt Thompson reported that they were now a thousand strong and flying the U.S. flag over the Jones County courthouse—“they boast of fighting for the Union,” he added.

In spring of 1864, Knight's company stayed deep in the swamps, supplied with food and information by local sympathizers and slaves. (© 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved) Matthew McConaughey (center) stars as Knight in The Free State of Jones. (© 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved.) The house where a Confederate general was shot, likely by Knight (William Widmer) Newton Knight (From the collection of Earle Knight / Courtesy of Victoria Bynum) A photograph of Newton Knight, held by his fourth cousin DeBoyd Knight (William Widmer) A portrait tentatively identified as Rachel (Herman Welborn Collection / Courtesy of Martha Doris Welborn)

That spring was the high-water mark of the rebellion against the Rebels. Polk ordered two battle-hardened regiments into southeast Mississippi, under the command of Piney Woods native Col. Robert Lowry. With hanging ropes and packs of vicious, manhunting dogs, they subdued the surrounding counties and then moved into the Free State of Jones. Several of the Knight company were mangled by the dogs, and at least ten were hanged, but Lowry couldn’t catch Knight or the core group. They were deep in the swamps, being supplied with food and information by local sympathizers and slaves, most notably Rachel.

After Lowry left, proclaiming victory, Knight and his men emerged from their hide-outs, and once again, began threatening Confederate officials and agents, burning bridges and destroying railroads to thwart the Rebel Army, and raiding food supplies intended for the troops. They fought their last skirmish at Sal’s Battery, also spelled Sallsbattery, on January 10, 1865, fighting off a combined force of cavalry and infantry. Three months later, the Confederacy fell.

In 2006, the filmmaker Gary Ross was at Universal Studios, discussing possible projects, when a development executive gave him a brief, one-page treatment about Newton Knight and the Free State of Jones. Ross was instantly intrigued, both by the character and the revelation of Unionism in Mississippi, the most deeply Southern state of all.

“It led me on a deep dive to understand more and more about him and the fact that the South wasn’t monolithic during the Civil War,” says Ross, speaking on the phone from New York. “I didn’t realize it was going to be two years of research before I began writing the screenplay.”

The first thing he did was take a canoe trip down the Leaf River, to get a feel for the area. Then he started reading, beginning with the five (now six) books about Newton Knight. That led into broader reading about other pockets of Unionism in the South. Then he started into Reconstruction.

“I’m not a fast reader, nor am I an academic,” he says, “although I guess I’ve become an amateur one.” He apprenticed himself to some of the leading authorities in the field, including Harvard’s John Stauffer and Steven Hahn at the University of Pennsylvania. (At the urging of Ross, Stauffer and co-author Sally Jenkins published their own book on the Jones County rebellion, in 2009.) Ross talks about these scholars in a tone of worship and adulation, as if they’re rock stars or movie stars—and none more so than Eric Foner at Columbia, the dean of Reconstruction experts.

“He is like a god, and I went into his office, and I said, ‘My name’s Gary Ross, I did Seabiscuit.’ I asked him a bunch of questions about Reconstruction, and all he did was give me a reading list. He was giving me no quarter. I’m some Hollywood guy, you know, and he wanted to see if I could do the work.”

Director Gary Ross recreates the world of Newt Knight, where the pro-Union rebels escaped into local swamps. “My heart lay here,” says Ross of his decade-long effort to bring the story to the screen. (© 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved)

Ross worked his way slowly and carefully through the books, and went back with more questions. Foner answered none of them, just gave him another reading list. Ross read those books too, and went back again with burning questions. This time Foner actually looked at him and said, “Not bad. You ought to think about studying this.”

“It was the greatest compliment a person could have given me,” says Ross. “I remember walking out of his office, across the steps of Columbia library, almost buoyant. It was such a heady experience to learn for learning’s sake, for the first time, rather than to generate a screenplay. I’m still reading history books all the time. I tell people this movie is my academic midlife crisis.”

In Hollywood, he says, the executives were extremely supportive of his research, and the script that he finally wrestled out of it, but they balked at financing the film. “This was before Lincoln and 12 Years a Slave, and it was very hard to get this sort of a drama made. So I went and did Hunger Games, but always keeping an eye on this. ”

Matthew McConaughey thought the Free State of Jones script was the most exciting Civil War story he had ever read, and knew immediately that he wanted to play Newt Knight. In Knight’s defiance of both the Confederate Army and the deepest taboos of Southern culture McConaughey sees an uncompromising and deeply moral leader. He was “a man who lived by the Bible and the barrel of a shotgun,” McConaughey says in an email. “If someone—no matter what their color—was being mistreated or being used, if a poor person was being used by someone to get rich, that was a simple wrong that needed to be righted in Newt’s eyes. He did so deliberately, and to the hell with the consequences.” McConaughey sums him up as a “shining light through the middle of this country’s bloodiest fight. I really kind of marveled at him.”

“He was a beacon of a man, ahead of his time,” says McConaughey of Knight. (© 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved)

The third act of the film takes place in Mississippi after the Civil War. There was a phase during early Reconstruction when blacks could vote, and black officials were elected for the first time. Then former Confederates violently took back control of the state and implemented a kind of second slavery for African-Americans. Once again disenfranchised, and terrorized by the Klan, they were exploited through sharecropping and legally segregated. “The third act is what makes this story feel so alive,” says McConaughey. “It makes it relevant today. Reconstruction is a verb that’s ongoing.”

Ross thinks Knight’s character and beliefs are most clearly revealed by his actions after the war. He was hired by the Reconstruction government to free black children from white masters who were refusing to emancipate them. “In 1875, he accepts a commission in what was essentially an all-black regiment,” says Ross. “His job was to defend the rights of freed African-Americans in one of Mississippi’s bloodiest elections. His commitment to these issues never waned.” In 1876, Knight deeded 160 acres of land to Rachel, making her one of very few African-American landowners in Mississippi at that time.

Much as Ross wanted to shoot the movie in Jones County, there were irresistible tax incentives to film across the border in Louisiana, and some breathtaking cypress swamps where various cast members were infested with the tiny mites known as chiggers. Nevertheless, Ross and McConaughey spent a lot of time in Jones County, persuading many county residents to appear in the film.

“I love the Leaf River and the whole area,” says Ross. “And I’ve grown to love Mississippi absolutely. It’s a very interesting, real and complicated place.”

On the website of Jones County Rosin Heels, the local chapter of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, an announcement warned that the film will portray Newt Knight as a civil rights activist and a hero. Then the writer inadvertently slips into the present tense: “He is actually a thief, murderer, adulterer and a deserter.”

Doug Jefcoate was listed as camp commander. I found him listed as a veterinarian in Laurel, and called up, saying I was interested in his opinions on Newt Knight. He sounded slightly impatient, then said, “OK, I’m a history guy and a fourth-generation guy. Come to the animal hospital tomorrow.”

The receptionist led me into a small examining room and closed both its doors. I stood there for a few long minutes, with a shiny steel table and, on the wall, a Bible quotation. Then Jefcoate walked in, a middle-aged man with sandy hair, glasses and a faraway smile. He was carrying two huge, leather-bound volumes of his family genealogy.

He gave me ten minutes on his family tree, and when I interrupted to ask about the Rosin Heels and Newt Knight, he stopped, looked puzzled, and began to chuckle. “You’ve got the wrong Doug Jefcoate,” he said. “I’m not that guy.” (Turns out he is Doug Jefcoat, without the “e.”)

He laughed uproariously, then settled down and gave me his thoughts. “I’m not a racist, OK, but I am a segregationist,” he said. “And ol’ Newt was skinny-dipping in the wrong pool.”

The Rosin Heel commander Doug Jefcoate wasn’t available, so I went instead to the law offices of Carl Ford, a Rosin Heel who had unsuccessfully defended Sam Bowers, the imperial wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, in his 1998 trial for the 1966 murder of civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer. Ford wasn’t there, but he’d arranged for John Cox, a friend, colleague and fellow Rosin Heel, to set me straight about Newt Knight.

John Cox, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, is critical of the movie’s historical treatment of Newt. (William Widmer)

Cox, an animated 71-year-old radio and television announcer with a long white beard, welcomed me into a small office crammed with video equipment and Confederate memorabilia. He was working on a film called Free State of Jones: The Republic That Never Was, intended to refute Gary Ross’ film. All he had so far was the credits (Executive Producer Carl Ford) and the introductory banjo music.

“Newt is what we call trailer trash,” he said in a booming baritone drawl. “I wouldn’t have him in my house. And like all poor, white, ignorant trash, he was in it for himself. Some people are far too enamored of the idea that he was Martin Luther King, and these are the same people who believe the War Between the States was about slavery, when nothing could be further from the truth.”

There seemed no point in arguing with him, and it was almost impossible to get a word in, so I sat there scribbling as he launched into a long monologue that defended slavery and the first incarnation of the Klan, burrowed deep into obscure Civil War battle minutiae, denied all charges of racism, and kept circling back to denounce Newt Knight and the simpering fools who tried to project their liberal agendas on him.

“There was no Free State of Jones,” he concluded. “It never existed.”

Joseph Hosey is a Jones County forester and wild mushroom harvester who was hired as an extra for the movie and ended up playing a core member of the Knight Company. Looking at him, there’s no reason to ask why. Scruffy and rail-thin with piercing blue eyes and a full beard, he looks like he subsists on Confederate Army rations and the occasional squirrel.

He wanted to meet me at Jitters Coffeehouse & Bookstore in Laurel, so he could show me an old map on the wall. It depicts Jones County as Davis County, and Ellisville as Leesburg. “After 1865, Jones County was so notorious that the local Confederates were ashamed to be associated with it,” he says. “So they got the county renamed after Jefferson Davis, and Ellisville after Robert E. Lee. A few years later, there was a vote on it, and the names were changed back. Thank God, because that would have sucked.”

Joseph Hosey, a Jones County forester who was an extra on the film, honors Knight’s legacy. “One of the things we do is clean up the graves. We keep Newt’s grave looking nice, and Rachel’s. We’re proud to do it.” (William Widmer)

Like his grandfather before him, Hosey is a great admirer of Newt Knight. Long before the film, when people asked where he was from, he would say, “The Free State of Jones.” Now he has a dog named Newt, and describes it as a “Union-blue Doberman.”

Being in the film, acting and interacting with Matthew McConaughey, was a profound and moving experience, but not because of the actor’s fame. “It was like Newt himself was standing right there in front of me. It made me really wish my grandfather was still alive, because we were always saying someone should make a movie about Newt.” Hosey and the other actors in the Knight Company bonded closely during the shoot and still refer to themselves as the Knight Company. “We have get-togethers in Jones County, and I imagine we always will,” he says.

I ask him what he admires most about Knight. “When you grow up in the South, you hear all the time about your ‘heritage,’ like it’s the greatest thing there is,” he says. “When I hear that word, I think of grits and sweet tea, but mostly I think about slavery and racism, and it pains me. Newt Knight gives me something in my heritage, as a white Southerner, that I can feel proud about. We didn’t all go along with it.”

After Reconstruction, with the former Confederates back in charge, the Klan after him, and Jim Crow segregation laws being passed, Knight retreated from public life to his homestead on the Jasper County border, which he shared with Rachel until her death in 1889, and continued to share with her children and grandchildren. He lived the self-sufficient life of a yeoman Piney Woods farmer, doted on his swelling ranks of children and grandchildren, and withdrew completely from white society.

He gave that single long interview in 1921, revealing a laconic sense of humor and a strong sense of right and wrong, and he died the following year, in February 1922. He was 84 years old. Joseph Hosey took me to Newt’s granddaughter’s cabin, where some say that he suffered a fatal heart attack while dancing on the porch. Hosey really wanted to take me to Newt Knight’s grave. But the sacred rite of hunting season was underway, and the landowner didn’t want visitors disturbing the deer in the area. So Hosey drove up to the locked gate, and then swiped up the relevant photographs on his phone.

Newt’s grave has an emblem of Sal, his beloved shotgun, and the legend, “He Lived For Others.” He’d given instructions that he should be buried here with Rachel. “It was illegal for blacks and whites to be buried in the same cemetery,” says Hosey. “Newt didn’t give a damn. Even in death, he defied them.”

There were several times in Jones County when my head began to swim.

During my final interview, across a brightly colored plastic table in the McDonald’s in Laurel, there were moments when my brain seized up altogether, and I would sit there stunned, unable to grasp what I was hearing. The two sisters sitting across the table were gently amused. They had seen this many times before. It was, in fact, the normal reaction when they tried to explain their family tree to outsiders.

Dorothy Knight Marsh and Florence Knight Blaylock are the great-granddaughters of Newt and Rachel. After many decades of living in the outside world, they are back in Soso, Mississippi, dealing with prejudice from all directions. The worst of it comes from within their extended family. “We have close relatives who won’t even look at us,” says Blaylock, the older sister, who was often taken for Mexican when she lived in California.

As great-granddaughters of Newt and Rachel, Dorothy Knight Marsh, left, and Florence Knight Blaylock revere their past: “It’s a very unusual, complex family,” says Blaylock. (William Widmer)

“Or they’ll be nice to us in private, and pretend they don’t know us in public,” added Marsh, who lived in Washington, D.C. for decades. For simplification, she said that there were three basic groups. The White Knights are descended from Newt and Serena, are often pro-Confederate, and proud of their pure white bloodlines. (In 1951, one of them, Ethel Knight, published a vitriolic indictment of Newt as a traitor to the Confederacy.) The Black Knights are descended from Newt’s cousin Dan, who had children with one of his slaves. The White Negroes (a.k.a. the Fair Knights or Knight Negroes) are descended from Newt and Rachel. “They all have separate family reunions,” said Blaylock.

The White Negro line was complicated further by Georgeanne, Rachel’s daughter by another white man. After Rachel died, Newt and Georgeanne had children. “He was a family man all right!” said Marsh. “I guess that’s why he had three of them. And he kept trying to marry out the color, so we would all keep getting lighter-skinned. We have to tell our young people, do not date in the Soso area. But we’re all fine. We don’t have any. problems. All Knights are hardworking and very capable.”

In the film, Marsh and Blaylock appear briefly in a courthouse scene. For the two of them, the Knight family saga has continued into the 20th century and beyond. Their cousin Davis Knight, who looked white and claimed to be white, was tried for the crime of miscegenation in 1948, after marrying a white woman. The trial was a study in Mississippian absurdity, paradox, contradiction and racial obsessiveness. A white man was convicted of being black the conviction was overturned he became legally white again.

“We’ve come to terms with who we are,” says Blaylock. “I’m proud to be descended from Newt and Rachel. I have so much respect for both of them.”

“Absolutely,” says Marsh. “And we can’t wait to see this movie.”

Paul Revere’s midnight ride wasn’t as amazing as these other 5

Posted On April 02, 2018 09:40:36

Paul Revere is the most famous of the riders who conducted midnight rides but while he deserves praise for his patriotism throughout the struggle for independence, his 16-mile midnight ride was actually pretty tame compared to what other riders in the war experienced.

A 16-year-old girl rode 40 miles and rallied 400-men. Another rider rescued Thomas Jefferson, other signers of the Declaration of Independence, and many members of the Virginia legislature.

So, here are 6 of the most famous and badass people who conducted rides during the Revolution:

1. Paul Revere, the most famous of the riders

See other important tweets from military history.

See other important tweets from military history.

Paul Revere got most of his fame from a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Poem, Paul Revere’s Ride. While the poem makes it sound like Revere conducted an epic, all-night ride, he actually only made it 16 miles before he was caught by Redcoats and had his horse confiscated. He did manage to warn most of the people between Boston and Lexington though.

2. Jack Jouett rescued so many leaders, including Thomas Jefferson

In Jun. 1781, Jack Jouett was eavesdropping on some British soldiers when they mentioned a plan to capture Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson and most the Virginia General Assembly. Jouett flagged this as a major party foul and rode 40 miles through the dark to warn the Revolutionary leaders, allowing them to escape capture.

3. Sybil Luddington raised 400 militiamen and earned Washington’s praise

Photo: Public Domain/Anthony22

Sybil Ludington was the 16-year-old daughter of a militia colonel when the British attacked nearby Danbury. Sybil rode out into the countryside to rally her father’s troops and got 400 militiamen ready to fend off the British Army, saving the town. She continued to conduct rides for much of the war. Gen. George Washington praised her for her contributions to the Colonial effort.

4. Samuel Prescott got word through to Concord when Paul Revere was captured

Local doctor Samuel Prescott was headed home from visiting his fiancee when he ran into Revere and William Dawes who were headed from Lexington to Concord. Prescott volunteered to ride with them and was the only one who managed to escape the British patrol and make it to Concord. The militiamen clashed with the British there later that day, holding the Redcoats at a bridge and killing 14.

5. William Dawes, the other rider with Paul Revere

Photo: Public Domain

William Dawes and Revere left at about the same time from Boston but took a different route. Dawes barely made it out of the city before it was locked down. He later rejoined Revere at Lexington but managed to escape the British when Revere did not.

6. Israel Bissell (may have) ridden 345 miles in 5 days to warn people across 5 states

The legend of Israel Bissell states that he was recruited by a militia colonel on Apr. 19, 1775 to take word of the Battles of Lexington and Concord to Hartford, Connecticut. The brave rider then supposedly rode another four days through another three states for a total of 345 miles.

Recent historical inquiries have found evidence that Israel Bissell may have actually been Isaac Bissell who rode from Boston to Hartford. While this still would be an impressive 100-mile ride, it’s not exactly a five-day marathon. Other cities on the route may have gotten word from the normal postal system which would’ve carried the message forward as important news.


Guerrilla Warfare during the Civil War

Thomas Conn Bryan, Confederate Georgia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1953).

David Carlson, "The "'Loanly Runagee'": Draft Evaders in Confederate South Georgia," Georgia Historical Quarterly 84 (winter 2000): 589-615.

Robert S. Davis Jr., "Memoirs of a Partisan War: Sion Darnell Remembers North Georgia, 1861-1865," Georgia Historical Quarterly 80 (spring 1996): 93-116.

Lee B. Kennett, Marching through Georgia: The Story of Soldiers and Civilians during Sherman's Campaign (New York: HarperCollins, 1995).

Jonathan D. Sarris, "Anatomy of an Atrocity: The Madden Branch Massacre and Guerrilla Warfare in North Georgia, 1861-1865," Georgia Historical Quarterly 77 (winter 1993): 679-710.

Jonathan D. Sarris, A Separate Civil War: Communities in Conflict in the Mountain South (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006).

Daniel E. Sutherland, A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

Mark V. Wetherington, Plain Folk's Fight: The Civil War and Reconstruction in Piney Woods Georgia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005).

Armed order?

Below is a chart showing the average number of days between the start and end of particular ceasefires in Syria, and the average number of days between the end of a ceasefire and the beginning of full-scale fighting. I compiled the data using dozens of news articles.

Chart via the author

As you can see, the military-political relationship between Syria and its allies and rebels in Hasakah, for example, is extraordinarily different from East Ghouta, Latakia and the rest.

The next chart shows how long it took for rebels in certain areas to surrender after a ceasefire took place.

Chart via the author

Again, the political/military relationship between the rebels in Aleppo, Daraya and Mouadamiya was extraordinarily different from the rebels in Homs and Madaya.

What explains these differences? It would be impossible to answer this question if one assumes that civil wars consist of full-scale fighting the whole way through.

Fortunately, University of Chicago professor Paul Staniliand’s 2012 article “States, Insurgents and Wartime Political Orders” — published in Perspectives on Politics — provides the tools for a more fine-grain analysis of state-insurgent relationships in civil war.

He identifies six types of relationships between the state and insurgent forces.

The first two occur when the fighting has stopped between that state and insurgent, but the insurgent maintains its arms and its political influence over territory within the state.

Under “shared sovereignty” the state and insurgents delineate the areas they control and influence. Fighting between the two sides is minimal or completely absent. And formal institutions are set up to ensure each side can control its territory without conflict, with the intention of eventually moving towards a more stable and direct alliance.

The Burmese government has set up these arrangements with many insurgent groups throughout the six-plus decades of civil war in that country. “In the Kachin and Wa areas, standing insurgent areas with territorial control and up to 35,000 soldiers have become Border Guard Forces, a label that masks their enduring autonomy,” Staniland points out. To some extent, “shared sovereignty” also describes the situation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

“Collusion” occurs when the state and the insurgents share the same territory and directly cooperate on a range of political and military activities. This includes providing intelligence on common enemies and even assisting each other in military raids.

The alliance between Sunni tribes and American forces in Iraq in 2007 is probably the best-known example of collusion. The tribes in Al Anbar actively assisted American forces in rooting out Al Qaeda in Iraq.

But numerous other examples exist. During the Sri Lankan civil war and throughout India’s fight in Kashmir, numerous insurgents switch sides and fought alongside the state, according to Staniland. In Burma, the Buddhist Karens within the Karen National Union insurgent organization formed their own insurgent group in 1994 and fought on the side of the government against the Christian-majority KNU.

Finally, many Palestinian fighters in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria in 2015 switched sides from the Nusra Front to the Syrian government in order to fight Islamic State.

The third and fourth types of relationships occur when cooperation between the state and insurgent groups is more passive in nature.

“Spheres of influence” is a title Staniland gives to state/insurgent relationships in which “state and insurgent leaders engage in low-level but recurrent communication over which types of violence and policy are acceptable and which will trigger an escalated response.” While under “shared sovereignty” the state and insurgent actively cooperate, spheres of influences is characterized by an “attempt to minimize violence by maintaining boundaries.”

“Until 2009–2010,” Staniland points out, “the Pakistani state left significant portions of its territory in the hands of even the hard-line factions of the Pakistani Taliban because it lacked the political interest and resolve to deploy its forces against these insurgents.”

Spheres of influence seems to explain the extremely long ceasefires in Syria, especially in the eastern Hasakah region. While some fighting occurs between the Syrian and Kurdish-Arab forces there, it seems that each side attempts to avoid such clashes. The preference for both sides is to go after ISIS. Indeed, this type of relationship perfectly describes the interaction between American and Russian-Syrian forces.

“Tacit coexistence” occurs when the state and insurgent share territory. Staniland notes that this type of relationship is not typified by cooperation, but the need to avoid major clashes because “neither side has the power or will to crush the other and that some kind of mediated mutual survival is necessary.” In this type of relationship violence is actually used as a tool “to define and probe the boundaries of interaction.”

In the 1980s in the northeast Assam region of India, state forces actually avoided going into certain districts known to be controlled by insurgent forces from the United Liberation Front of Asom, according to Staniland.

The Naxalite insurgency in 2009 was successful in India’s rural interior because state forces were “largely uninterested in the rural interior and unwilling to accept risk to restore a state monopoly of power,” Staniland writes.

The final two types of relationships occur when the state and insurgents are actually fighting. The two types of fighting that Staniland identify are “clashing monopolies,” and “guerrilla disorder.” The former includes SNC and conventional civil wars. The latter is, of course, guerrilla war.

The areas in Syria experiencing the relatively short ceasefires and short periods between the end of ceasefires and beginning of offensives fall under either “clashing monopolies” or “guerrilla disorder.”

Civil wars are a messy area of study. Some places are just too dangerous for journalists of academics to gather data. Numerous insurgents and militias form, die, change names, switch sides, or stop fighting. Many civil wars with unique characteristics, such as those in Burma, Kashmir and Pakistan, are understudied. Western analysts have obsessed over very few cases. Manly Vietnam, Algeria, Malaya, Iraq, Afghanistan and, to some extent, Chechnya and Kenya.

A better understanding of civil wars is vital. Some civil wars only affect the country involved, but others can have global consequences. Just look at Syria.

But in order to get over these hurdles analysts—even those writing for popular audiences—are going to need to take a more nuanced approach. And they are going to have to look at civil wars that are outside of the academic mainstream.

Watch the video: Confederate Leaders: The Civil War in Four Minutes (January 2022).