I was very pleased to receive a review copy of Gregory H. Wolk’s new book, A Tour Guide to Missouri’s Civil War: Friend and Foe Alike. This is a book that can be enjoyed by Civil War enthusiasts anywhere. Wolk provides a well crafted overview of the history that led up to the war and why that history was particularly volatile in Missouri and along its borders. Stuart Symington, Jr.’s fine “Foreward” sets the scene for Wolk’s exploration of why Missouri’s Civil War experience lasted longer and was arguably uglier than that of any other state. You may be surprised to learn, for example, that Missouri saw more Civil War battles or engagements than any state except Virginia and Tennessee. In fact, “almost half of the battles fought in 1861 occurred in Missouri.”
Wolk provides a good balance between narrative history, illustrations, maps, and photographs. Over 230 historic sites are described.
For those who want to get out and see the important sites and battlefields of the war in Missouri, Wolk provides five driving tours that include
- St. Louis and the Southeast,
- North Central,
- South Central,
- the Kansas City Region, and
- Southwest Missouri.
He’s designed the tours as “Loop’s” that each take about two days to complete. Within each loop there are at least thirty heritage sites. Even if you don’t plan to take all of the driving tours, the book’s descriptions provide an excellent overview of the history of each region during the war era.
One of the book’s many strong points is its profiles of the fascinating individuals involved in the conflict. Readers are introduced, for example, to Lt. Colonel Frisby Henderson McCullough, the most prominent of fifteen southern men executed after the Battle of Kirksville for parole violations. Tour Stop 85 marks the “Kirksville Massacre Site” where the executions by firing squad took place on 7 August 1862 by the order of Col. John McNeil.
Wolk’s website and blog provide a gathering place for reference, discussion, and feedback. Visit friendandfoe.org to gain additional historical insights or to correspond with the author.
About the author: Gregory H. Wolk is a graduate of New York University School of Law and practices law in St. Louis. He is President of Missouri’s Civil War Heritage Foundation, Inc., who’s wonderful website I reviewed here.