A Secret Society History of the Civil War

University of Illinois Press
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This unique history of the Civil War considers the impact of nineteenth-century American secret societies on the path to as well as the course of the war. Beginning with the European secret societies that laid the groundwork for freemasonry in the United States, Mark A. Lause analyzes how the Old World's traditions influenced various underground groups and movements in America, particularly George Lippard's Brotherhood of the Union, an American attempt to replicate the political secret societies that influenced the European Revolutions of 1848.

Lause traces the Brotherhood's various manifestations, including the Knights of the Golden Circle (out of which developed the Ku Klux Klan), and the Confederate secret groups through which John Wilkes Booth and others attempted to undermine the Union. This book shows how, in the years leading up to the Civil War, these clandestine organizations exacerbated existing sectional tensions and may have played a part in key events such as John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, Lincoln's election, and the Southern secession process of 1860-1861.
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About the author

Mark A. Lause is a professor of history at the University of Cincinnati and the author of numerous books, including Young America: Land, Labor, and the Republican Community and Race and Radicalism in the Union Army.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Illinois Press
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Published on
Dec 1, 2011
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Pages
248
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ISBN
9780252093593
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
Social Science / Freemasonry & Secret Societies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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In the fall of 1864, during the last brutal months of the Civil War, the Confederates made one final, desperate attempt to rampage through the Shenandoah Valley, Tennessee, and Missouri. Price’s Raid was the common name for the Missouri campaign led by General Sterling Price. Involving tens of thousands of armed men, the 1864 Missouri campaign has too long remained unexamined by a book-length modern study, but now, Civil War scholar Mark A. Lause fills this long-standing gap in the literature, providing keen insights on the problems encountered during and the myths propagated about this campaign. Price marched Confederate troops 1,500 miles into Missouri, five times as far as his Union counterparts who met him in the incursion. Along the way, he picked up additional troops; the most exaggerated estimates place Price’s troop numbers at 15,000. The Federal forces initially underestimated the numbers heading for Missouri and then called in troops from Illinois and Kansas, amassing 65,000 to 75,000 troops and militia members. The Union tried to downplay its underestimation of the Confederate buildup of troops by supplanting the term campaign with the impromptu raid. This term was also used by Confederates to minimize their lack of military success. The Confederates, believing that Missourians wanted liberation from Union forces, had planned a two-phase campaign. They intended not only to disrupt the functioning government through seizure of St. Louis and the capital, Jefferson City, but also to restore the pro-secessionist government driven from the state three years before. The primary objective, however, was to change the outcome of the Federal elections that fall, encouraging votes against the Republicans who incorporated ending slavery into the Union war goals. What followed was widespread uncontrolled brutality in the form of guerrilla warfare, which drove support for the Federalists. Missouri joined Kansas in reelecting the Republicans and ensuring the end of slavery. Lause’s account of the Missouri campaign of 1864 brings new understanding of the two distinct phases of the campaign, as based upon declared strategic goals. Additionally, as the author reveals the clear connection between the military campaign and the outcome of the election, he successfully tests the efforts of new military historians to integrate political, economic, social, and cultural history into the study of warfare. In showing how both sides during Price’s Raid used self-serving fictions to provide a rationale for their politically motivated brutality and were unwilling to risk defeat, Lause reveals the underlying nature of the American Civil War as a modern war.
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