Civil War Book Review: General Jo Shelby’s March

by James Durney on December 11, 2012 · 0 comments

General Jo Shelby’s March
by Anthony Arthur

Product Details

In 1865, many Americans face a difficult decision.  Their side had lost a civil war and the future was uncertain.  Most were anonymous soldiers, who simply went home.  Others well known had a long history of incidents.  These men worried that their war was far from over.

Jo Shelby was one of these men.  A General in the Confederate army, he achieved notoriety on several occasions.  On the plus side, he had commanded the rear guard during Price’s retreat from Missouri.  This action cemented his reputation as a military man.  However, he is associated with William Quantrill, “Bloody” Bill Anderson and Frank James.  Worse, he was a recognized leader of the proslavery faction during the “Troubles” on the Kansas Missouri border.  Additionally, he faces questions about massacres of Black soldiers by his command.  For these reasons, Shelby and several hundred of his men elect to flee to Mexico rather than surrender.

This is a history of Shelby’s march, experiences in Mexico, return to the United States and readjustment to a new nation.  The author depends on John Newman Edwards’ account.  Edwards was very impressed with Shelby and had very little bad to say about him.  This is not a hagiography, but Shelby is on the right side more often than not, making for a laudatory account.

Endnotes are for an entire page, leaving the reader to guess which source refers to which paragraph at times.  I found a couple of the author’s assertions questionable and I have doubts about his choice of sources here.

Overall, this is a very readable and reasonably accurate account of an epic adventure.

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