Discussion Union vs CSA Guerrilla

16thVA

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 8, 2008
Location
Philadelphia
The Confederacy did not lose West Virginia to guerrilla war. Confederate forces were pushed out of the far northwest by McClellan and other Union commanders, and on paper West Virginia became a US state in 1863, but as the governor of the new state said a few months before he took office-

"After you get a short distance below the Panhandle...it is not safe for a loyal man to go into the interior out of sight of the Ohio River." Arthur I. Boreman, Feb. 27, 1863.

Chief responsibility for this condition was attributed to Sherrard Clemens, John S. Carlile and John J. Davis, who, through their speech-making activities against the new state constitution as amended by Congress and the general policies of the Federal government, were sowing seeds of discord and keeping alive guerrilla warfare.

As a result it had become next to impossible for Union men to travel in West Virginia "without being shot down or carried off to Richmond," while Confederates and their sympathizers in the guise of State rights men, came and went at pleasure, with direful effects upon Union soldiers. Charles H. Ambler, "Francis H. Pierpont", pg. 188

I take issue with Ambler shifting blame onto politicians, I don't think their speeches were made much outside the border counties to the north. Carlile, Clemens and Davis were known as Unionists, and it would be dangerous for them to travel much further into West Virginia, which is where most of the secessionist counties were.

On Feb. 18, 1864, the Gallipolis (Ohio) Journal complained about the lifting of restrictions on river traffic on the Ohio.

"This will prove highly gratifying to the rebels on Kanawha, and their sympathizing friends in Ohio. With the commanding General of the Department [Scammon] and his Quarter Master, in Libby prison, captured by rebels within 35 miles of Gallipolis-a government steamer burned at the same time, it might seem to an unpracticed eye, that the State of West Virginia was not so intensely loyal as some persons wish it to be considered. The fact is that region of country is just as well stocked with rebels both armed and unarmed as any other portion of the South."

The political separation of western Virginia that took place in Wheeling and Washington, DC, had very little input from most of the people in the new state.

Scott A. MacKenzie, an historian from Canada who inexplicably took an interest in West Virginia, just published an essay in Ohio Valley History, which pretty much agrees with what I have posted here for some time. I'm afraid full access to the article is only through Project Muse, but the first page is available.

https://muse.jhu.edu/article/666080/pdf
 

Specster

Sergeant Major
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
Location
Mass.
A couple of problems for this idea is that the areas best suited for guerrilla warfare was where the CSA was weakest away from cotton plantations and large scale slavery. The second what would the the motivating factor for such a war and who would support it. Protection of slavery was the motivation for the CSA, nationalism never quite replaced it and once slavery was gone so was the motivation.

I dont agree. At some point the motivation for the fight faded away and the hatred festered to the point that the South wanted to hurt the North, for hate sake. Civil wars at that time were notorious for NOT ending. Even after one side "lost", military hostilities often continued for decade, with collateral damage to virtually every aspect of civilized living.

I disagree, I think the proximity of plantations and slavery had little to due with Lee's decision not to pursue the guerrilla war. I think he was a very intelligent man and he saw no reason to pursue a ...ah, Lost Cause.

War is a ***** but mountain warfare was of a type that bites hard. Look how long and how much effort it took to bring Jesse James under the US governments thumb. Historically bushwhackers, jayhawlkers and such were dealt with by arresting and often harassing those providing their resources - which often included their families. And Im not saying Missouri is mountainous but many CSA soldiers from the Appalachian Mountains chain said they could hold out against the Feds forever in that environment - while gaining nothing but vengeance
 

jgoodguy

Banished Forever
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is a terrible thing...
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Joined
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Location
Birmingham, Alabama
I dont agree. At some point the motivation for the fight faded away and the hatred festered to the point that the South wanted to hurt the North, for hate sake. Civil wars at that time were notorious for NOT ending. Even after one side "lost", military hostilities often continued for decade, with collateral damage to virtually every aspect of civilized living.

I disagree, I think the proximity of plantations and slavery had little to due with Lee's decision not to pursue the guerrilla war. I think he was a very intelligent man and he saw no reason to pursue a ...ah, Lost Cause.

War is a ***** but mountain warfare was of a type that bites hard. Look how long and how much effort it took to bring Jesse James under the US governments thumb. Historically bushwhackers, jayhawlkers and such were dealt with by arresting and often harassing those providing their resources - which often included their families. And Im not saying Missouri is mountainous but many CSA soldiers from the Appalachian Mountains chain said they could hold out against the Feds forever in that environment - while gaining nothing but vengeance

Your objection is noted.
I said that an extended insurrection was not possible for good reasons, which you did not address. I did not address Lee or his motivations. The motivation of the CSA was protection of slavery, hardly an inspirational motivation for guerrilla war. A motivation for Lee would be the breakdown of the authority of the Confederate aristocracy during an insurrection.

How in the name of heaven would many CSA soldiers be fed, maintain unit cohesion, and be supplied in the wild. Wishful thinking does not address that. As to Jesse James, his after war activities was that of a criminal gang with limited effect.
 

jgoodguy

Banished Forever
-:- A Mime -:-
is a terrible thing...
Don’t feed the Mime
Joined
Aug 17, 2011
Location
Birmingham, Alabama
I dont agree. At some point the motivation for the fight faded away and the hatred festered to the point that the South wanted to hurt the North, for hate sake. Civil wars at that time were notorious for NOT ending. Even after one side "lost", military hostilities often continued for decade, with collateral damage to virtually every aspect of civilized living.

I disagree, I think the proximity of plantations and slavery had little to due with Lee's decision not to pursue the guerrilla war. I think he was a very intelligent man and he saw no reason to pursue a ...ah, Lost Cause.

War is a ***** but mountain warfare was of a type that bites hard. Look how long and how much effort it took to bring Jesse James under the US governments thumb. Historically bushwhackers, jayhawlkers and such were dealt with by arresting and often harassing those providing their resources - which often included their families. And Im not saying Missouri is mountainous but many CSA soldiers from the Appalachian Mountains chain said they could hold out against the Feds forever in that environment - while gaining nothing but vengeance
Here is how Lee put it.
THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR By GENERAL E P ALEXANDER
"If I should take your advice, how many men do you suppose would get
away?"
"Two-thirds of us," I answered. "We would be like rabbits and partridges
in the bushes, and they could not scatter to follow us." He said :
" I have not over 15,000 muskets left. Two-thirds of them divided among
the States, even if all could be collected, would be too small a force to
accomplish anything. All could not be collected. Their homes have been
overrun, and many would go to look after their families.
"Then, General, you and I as Christian men have no right to consider •
only how this would affect us. We must consider its effect on the country
as a whole. Already it is demoralized by the four years of war. If I
took your advice, the menwould be without rations and under no control
of officers. They would be compelled to rob and steal in order to live.
They would become mere bands of marauders, and the enemy's cavalry
would pursue them and overrun many wide sections they may never have
occasion to visit. We would bring on a state of affairs it would take the
country years to recover from.
"And, as for myself, you young fellows might go to bushwhacking,
but the only dignified course for me would be, to go to Gen. Grant and
surrender myself and take the consequences of my acts."
 

Specster

Sergeant Major
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
Location
Mass.
Your objection is noted.
I said that an extended insurrection was not possible for good reasons, which you did not address. I did not address Lee or his motivations. The motivation of the CSA was protection of slavery, hardly an inspirational motivation for guerrilla war. A motivation for Lee would be the breakdown of the authority of the Confederate aristocracy during an insurrection.

How in the name of heaven would many CSA soldiers be fed, maintain unit cohesion, and be supplied in the wild. Wishful thinking does not address that. As to Jesse James, his after war activities was that of a criminal gang with limited effect.
You are bootstrapping your polemic, proctor, to your unending narrative on evils of slavery. The OP was about
USA vs. CSA Guerrillas.
 

Specster

Sergeant Major
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
Location
Mass.
Instead of creating my arguments for me and making vast assumption as to what I am writing and thinking, just stick to the basics....The war could have gone on in the wilderness for decades and Lee in the sping of 1865 had more clout than Davis. Where in the world are you coming up with the notion that the reestablishment of slavery was even remotely possible at that time? Did I hint at that? or WISH that in one of my dreams that you alone are tapped into?

I am saying that Lee could have rejected surrender, and told his subordinates to do continue fighting as guerrillas - for no other reason than to hurt the North. After the *** kicking Sherman inflicted on the South and the fall of, inter alia, Richmond, how could you possibly be talking about the re-establishment of anything? I never wrote nor implied anything of the sort.

As for me bringing up Jesse James, I did it to highlight the fact that it took years and untold resources to bring down this small time bushwacker. What if that were NB Forrest, or Bloody Anderson or a healthy Quantrell times 50 continuing the fight in the bush? It took 17 years to bring down James - in spite of attempts by state militia, Pinkertons, rewards, etc. to end him.
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
I did it to highlight the fact that it took years and untold resources to bring down this small time bushwacker.
I think you are correct in your line of thinking. With regard to Jesse, I don't believe he was ever any kind of hero. Jesse was a small time punk bandit with a mystique far beyond the reality of his situation. Jesse was cunning, smart, and clever, too, but I doubt he could have achieved his media presence without the help of John Newman Edwards. Major Edwards is another story entirely. I have told bits of his story here in other threads. He had significant accomplishments. In my view, helping Jesse James was not one of them, except in terms of propaganda.
 

Borderruffian

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2007
Location
Marshfield Missouri
The Confederacy did not lose West Virginia to guerrilla war. Confederate forces were pushed out of the far northwest by McClellan and other Union commanders, and on paper West Virginia became a US state in 1863, but as the governor of the new state said a few months before he took office-

"After you get a short distance below the Panhandle...it is not safe for a loyal man to go into the interior out of sight of the Ohio River." Arthur I. Boreman, Feb. 27, 1863.

Chief responsibility for this condition was attributed to Sherrard Clemens, John S. Carlile and John J. Davis, who, through their speech-making activities against the new state constitution as amended by Congress and the general policies of the Federal government, were sowing seeds of discord and keeping alive guerrilla warfare.

As a result it had become next to impossible for Union men to travel in West Virginia "without being shot down or carried off to Richmond," while Confederates and their sympathizers in the guise of State rights men, came and went at pleasure, with direful effects upon Union soldiers. Charles H. Ambler, "Francis H. Pierpont", pg. 188

I take issue with Ambler shifting blame onto politicians, I don't think their speeches were made much outside the border counties to the north. Carlile, Clemens and Davis were known as Unionists, and it would be dangerous for them to travel much further into West Virginia, which is where most of the secessionist counties were.

On Feb. 18, 1864, the Gallipolis (Ohio) Journal complained about the lifting of restrictions on river traffic on the Ohio.

"This will prove highly gratifying to the rebels on Kanawha, and their sympathizing friends in Ohio. With the commanding General of the Department [Scammon] and his Quarter Master, in Libby prison, captured by rebels within 35 miles of Gallipolis-a government steamer burned at the same time, it might seem to an unpracticed eye, that the State of West Virginia was not so intensely loyal as some persons wish it to be considered. The fact is that region of country is just as well stocked with rebels both armed and unarmed as any other portion of the South."

The political separation of western Virginia that took place in Wheeling and Washington, DC, had very little input from most of the people in the new state.

Scott A. MacKenzie, an historian from Canada who inexplicably took an interest in West Virginia, just published an essay in Ohio Valley History, which pretty much agrees with what I have posted here for some time. I'm afraid full access to the article is only through Project Muse, but the first page is available.
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/666080/pdf
Yes but because of the Unionist sympathy of the residents it was largely lost to the CS prior to those operations. Whether Irregular or regular warfare it was lost and there were some Union guerrilla bands in West By God Virginny.
 

16thVA

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 8, 2008
Location
Philadelphia
I have to disagree about that. There were a few Union organized guerrilla hunters, like Blazer's Scouts, many if not most of whom were from Ohio. Supplies and men were being funneled into Virginia from West Virginia all through the war, Confederate recruiters were operating even in Clarksburg in 1864. The residents of WV were not mostly Unionist, that is a myth. Vincent Witcher had almost a regiment of new volunteers in southern WV at the end of 1864. Half of West Virginia's soldiers were Confederate, and that is during Union occupation of the population centers. It was the only border state that did not give most of its men to the Union.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
The Confederacy did not lose West Virginia to guerrilla war. Confederate forces were pushed out of the far northwest by McClellan and other Union commanders, and on paper West Virginia became a US state in 1863, but as the governor of the new state said a few months before he took office-

"After you get a short distance below the Panhandle...it is not safe for a loyal man to go into the interior out of sight of the Ohio River." Arthur I. Boreman, Feb. 27, 1863.

Chief responsibility for this condition was attributed to Sherrard Clemens, John S. Carlile and John J. Davis, who, through their speech-making activities against the new state constitution as amended by Congress and the general policies of the Federal government, were sowing seeds of discord and keeping alive guerrilla warfare.

As a result it had become next to impossible for Union men to travel in West Virginia "without being shot down or carried off to Richmond," while Confederates and their sympathizers in the guise of State rights men, came and went at pleasure, with direful effects upon Union soldiers. Charles H. Ambler, "Francis H. Pierpont", pg. 188

I take issue with Ambler shifting blame onto politicians, I don't think their speeches were made much outside the border counties to the north. Carlile, Clemens and Davis were known as Unionists, and it would be dangerous for them to travel much further into West Virginia, which is where most of the secessionist counties were.

On Feb. 18, 1864, the Gallipolis (Ohio) Journal complained about the lifting of restrictions on river traffic on the Ohio.

"This will prove highly gratifying to the rebels on Kanawha, and their sympathizing friends in Ohio. With the commanding General of the Department [Scammon] and his Quarter Master, in Libby prison, captured by rebels within 35 miles of Gallipolis-a government steamer burned at the same time, it might seem to an unpracticed eye, that the State of West Virginia was not so intensely loyal as some persons wish it to be considered. The fact is that region of country is just as well stocked with rebels both armed and unarmed as any other portion of the South."

The political separation of western Virginia that took place in Wheeling and Washington, DC, had very little input from most of the people in the new state.

Scott A. MacKenzie, an historian from Canada who inexplicably took an interest in West Virginia, just published an essay in Ohio Valley History, which pretty much agrees with what I have posted here for some time. I'm afraid full access to the article is only through Project Muse, but the first page is available.

https://muse.jhu.edu/article/666080/pdf
The Confederacy did not lose West Virginia to guerrilla war. Confederate forces were pushed out of the far northwest by McClellan and other Union commanders, and on paper West Virginia became a US state in 1863, but as the governor of the new state said a few months before he took office-

"After you get a short distance below the Panhandle...it is not safe for a loyal man to go into the interior out of sight of the Ohio River." Arthur I. Boreman, Feb. 27, 1863.

Chief responsibility for this condition was attributed to Sherrard Clemens, John S. Carlile and John J. Davis, who, through their speech-making activities against the new state constitution as amended by Congress and the general policies of the Federal government, were sowing seeds of discord and keeping alive guerrilla warfare.

As a result it had become next to impossible for Union men to travel in West Virginia "without being shot down or carried off to Richmond," while Confederates and their sympathizers in the guise of State rights men, came and went at pleasure, with direful effects upon Union soldiers. Charles H. Ambler, "Francis H. Pierpont", pg. 188

I take issue with Ambler shifting blame onto politicians, I don't think their speeches were made much outside the border counties to the north. Carlile, Clemens and Davis were known as Unionists, and it would be dangerous for them to travel much further into West Virginia, which is where most of the secessionist counties were.

On Feb. 18, 1864, the Gallipolis (Ohio) Journal complained about the lifting of restrictions on river traffic on the Ohio.

"This will prove highly gratifying to the rebels on Kanawha, and their sympathizing friends in Ohio. With the commanding General of the Department [Scammon] and his Quarter Master, in Libby prison, captured by rebels within 35 miles of Gallipolis-a government steamer burned at the same time, it might seem to an unpracticed eye, that the State of West Virginia was not so intensely loyal as some persons wish it to be considered. The fact is that region of country is just as well stocked with rebels both armed and unarmed as any other portion of the South."

The political separation of western Virginia that took place in Wheeling and Washington, DC, had very little input from most of the people in the new state.

Scott A. MacKenzie, an historian from Canada who inexplicably took an interest in West Virginia, just published an essay in Ohio Valley History, which pretty much agrees with what I have posted here for some time. I'm afraid full access to the article is only through Project Muse, but the first page is available.

https://muse.jhu.edu/article/666080/pdf
The author Robert Mackey in his book " The uncivil war Irregular Warfare in the Upper South" pages 103 to 106 does discuss the counterinsurgency war in West Virginia. Mackey points out that the Union was able to secure the vital B&O Rail Road from insurgent attacks. Mackey also points out that by and large Union forces were successful in countering guerrillas. Mackey does point out that the Union had less success against Confederate Partisan Cavalry under leaders such has Mosby and O'Neill.
Mackey also has a chart to show how many Union counterinsurgency forces were in West Virginia and Virginia throughout the Civil War.
The counterinsurgency war in West Virginia is as you know not as well known as the Civil War counterinsurgency conflict in Missouri.
Leftyhunter
 

16thVA

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 8, 2008
Location
Philadelphia
The author Robert Mackey in his book " The uncivil war Irregular Warfare in the Upper South" pages 103 to 106 does discuss the counterinsurgency war in West Virginia. Mackey points out that the Union was able to secure the vital B&O Rail Road from insurgent attacks. Mackey also points out that by and large Union forces were successful in countering guerrillas. Mackey does point out that the Union had less success against Confederate Partisan Cavalry under leaders such has Mosby and O'Neill.
Mackey also has a chart to show how many Union counterinsurgency forces were in West Virginia and Virginia throughout the Civil War.
The counterinsurgency war in West Virginia is as you know not as well known as the Civil War counterinsurgency conflict in Missouri.
Leftyhunter

Hi Lefty, in all my reading on this subject I have never encountered instances of Unionist guerrilla groups operating in West Virginia. The guerrilla hunters, such as Baggs' Snake Hunters, Blazer's Scouts, Swamp Dragons, etc., were not guerrillas, but part of the Union armed forces in West Virginia. I've encountered instances of singular acts by Unionists in Confederate territory within the borders of WV, but no irregular organizations. I think that might be more southwestern Virginia.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Hi Lefty, in all my reading on this subject I have never encountered instances of Unionist guerrilla groups operating in West Virginia. The guerrilla hunters, such as Baggs' Snake Hunters, Blazer's Scouts, Swamp Dragons, etc., were not guerrillas, but part of the Union armed forces in West Virginia. I've encountered instances of singular acts by Unionists in Confederate territory within the borders of WV, but no irregular organizations. I think that might be more southwestern Virginia.
I agree West Virginia was not lost to the Confederacy due to insurgency. Rather it was a combination of Unionists and federal troops. Having a divided three way Confederate command with Lee only being a general advisor in chief didn't help matters.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Yes but because of the Unionist sympathy of the residents it was largely lost to the CS prior to those operations. Whether Irregular or regular warfare it was lost and there were some Union guerrilla bands in West By God Virginny.
Yes indeed there was at least some Unionist guerrillas in what would become West Virginia prior to the liberation or invasion ( depending on one's political point of view) of North West Virginia by Rosecrans and McCellan.
The Snake Hunters were not a formally sanctioned part of the Union Army or West Virginia State Militia but rather just Unionist Home Guards.
So in a way both you and @16thVA are correct. Yes many Virginians in what would become West Virginia were pro Union and some did indeed use guerrilla warfare prior to Union forces entering the state. @16thVA is right that without conventional Union forces the Union could not more or less control West Virginia.
Intrestingly enough similar to Missouri out of state militias from Ohio fought local West Virginia pro Confederate civilians.
West Virginia was arguably has badly divided as parts of Missouri and even if the Union did not liberate/invade the North West counties the Confederacy would of had a Missouri sized mess to deal with.
Source; "Savage Conflict the decisive role of guerrilla warfare in the American Civil War" Danial Sutherland University of North Carolina Press p. 30-35.
Leftyhunter
 

16thVA

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 8, 2008
Location
Philadelphia
Lefty, the Snake Hunters, which was partly recruited in Ohio and led by an Ohioan, acted as scouts for McClellan in 1861, and in early 1862 were formally part of the 11th WV, Co. A. I don't think they can be considered "guerrillas".
 

19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
There was no organized insurgency in the CSA. If the tales about the "Republic of Jones" had been true then that would have been the closest thing to it, but they were not true. Newt Knight didn't set up a government and never had more than 125 in his band of deserters.
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
There was no organized insurgency in the CSA. If the tales about the "Republic of Jones" had been true then that would have been the closest thing to it, but they were not true. Newt Knight didn't set up a government and never had more than 125 in his band of deserters.


The Federal Government also refused him a pension on 3 different occasions. He wasn't a Union anything he was an outlaw.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
There was no organized insurgency in the CSA. If the tales about the "Republic of Jones" had been true then that would have been the closest thing to it, but they were not true. Newt Knight didn't set up a government and never had more than 125 in his band of deserters.
There was enough of an organised insurgency to tie down thousands of regular Confederate troops and control territory. I have already provided sources ont this.
Newt Knight was not the only Unionist guerrilla leader nor was he the only Unionist guerrilla leader in Southern Mississippi.
Even Confederate officials acknowledged that they were loosing control of Southern Mississippi.
Leftyhunter
 
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