There were 1,162 battles and skirmishes in Missouri during the Civil War, behind only Virginia and Tennessee. Virginia gets the press, and the movies.
Most historians relegate Missouri’s role as a footnote, a faraway place with a nasty internal guerrilla war that produced the likes of Jesse James. Historian James McPherson, one of the contemporary giants of Civil War studies, refers to Missouri as “peripheral to the principal military campaigns of the war.”
Louis S. Gerteis, a professor of history at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, respectfully disagrees. Gerteis established his bona fides in 2001 with publication of “Civil War St. Louis,” a clear and thorough account of the turmoil, both in arms and cultural division, that afflicted St. Louis throughout the four-year war.
This summer he has answered McPherson with “The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History,” a narrative of the clashes between conventional Union and Confederate armies in Missouri. Gerteis notes that the Federal Civil War Sites Advisory Commission placed 45 battles at the highest level of significance. Three of them are in Missouri.
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