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BOOK REVIEW: Forgotten tales of Rebel travels
Question of the Day
GUERRILLAS AND OTHER CURIOSITIES
By Samuel Anderson Pence
Edited by Harold Dellinger
Two Trails Publishing
$21.95, 302 pages (paperback)
REVIEWED BY STEVE FRENCH
Most Civil War enthusiasts remember the Missouri “bushwhackers” as bloodthirsty Rebel brigands who fought under the “black flag” and definitely left their mark on such places as Lawrence, Kan., and Centralia, Mo.
Although the well-publicized exploits of Willian T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson, Frank and Jesse James, William Quantrell and Cole Younger made them infamous, many of their lesser-known compatriots had remarkable wartime adventures as well.
Author Samuel Anderson Pence was born in 1885 near Kearny, Mo. He descended from a family whose farm bordered the James’ homestead. Pence’s great-uncles Bud and Donnie rode with Quantrell on his fateful 1865 Kentucky raid and before that were accomplished guerrillas in their own right.
While growing up, Pence knew Frank James and a number of other former guerrillas. Mesmerized by the old-timers’ gripping stories of blazing gun battles, incredible escapes and thrilling raids, Pence later devoted a good portion of his spare time to researching and writing bushwhacker history.
In his lifetime, Pence wrote two long manuscripts, one focusing on the James brothers and another on the guerrillas. Although he sent his work to a number of publishers, none was interested.
The author died in 1971, and eventually it fell to his grandson Daniel M. Pence to collect his papers, have them retyped and edited, and finally make his interesting works available to the public. The first book, “I Knew Frank … I Wish I Had Known Jesse,” appeared in print in 2006.
“Guerrillas and Other Curiosities” contains an exciting collection of “bushwhacker” stories that puts the reader up in the saddle with those longhaired, devil-may-care horsemen as they battle Federal troops, Kansas “jayhawkers” and Missouri Unionists.
Pence writes that their organizations were unique among Rebel outfits. “Southern guerrillas … could withdraw at anytime they pleased, even a group could separate and elect a leader and start on their own.” These loosely organized companies also were not required to supply a soldier with anything,
They were notable marksmen, expert with their Colt revolvers. Most loaded a light charge in each cylinder to save powder and improve accuracy by lessening the gun’s kick.
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