American Civil War Guerrilla Tactics, Sean McLachlan

American Civil War Guerrilla Tactics, Sean McLachlan

Elite 174

The title of this book is actually a little misleading. Guerrilla tactics are indeed covered, but the scope of the book is actually much wider. McLachlan looks at three different groups - the genuine guerrillas, partisan rangers and regular army cavalry raiders. After defining the three groups he then spends about a third of the book giving an outline of the development of irregular warfare, from the pre-war struggle in Kansas to the final few months of the conflict in 1865. Three pages of potted biographies follow.

Only then do we move on to an examination of tactics, which covers the next third of the book. This section is followed by a look at the effectiveness of irregular tactics during the Civil War, before McLachlan concludes with a brief look at the period after the war, where many ex-guerrilla fighters became either outlaws or members of the early Ku Klux Klan. A considerable amount of space is also devoted to Unions attempts to defeat the irregulars, a particular problem once they were operating in occupied Confederate territory.

A more accurate title for this book would be Irregular Warfare of the American Civil War, and it benefits from this wider scope. Many of the most famous 'guerrilla' leaders were actually regular army officers who fought with the main armies as well as conducting raids behind enemy lines, while many of the genuine guerrillas were little better than outlaws even during the war. By expanding his scope beyond the actual guerrillas McLachlan has been able to include famous cavalry raiders, such as Forrest or Mosby, and has been able to focus on a type of warfare rather than just one of the many groups of men conduction irregular warfare during the Civil War.

The Irregulars' War
The Leaders
Organizations and Tactics
The Impact of Irregular Warfare

Author: Sean McLachlan
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 64
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2009

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