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Irregular Conflict on the Kansas-Missouri Border: Union Policies, Indiscriminate Violence and Insurrection

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2017,31 May 2018

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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The state of Missouri was the site of the most bloody and violent insurgency during the American Civil War. Although Missouri never seceded from the Union, the struggle between Union occupying forces and irregulars quickly degraded to a violent contest for control with the civilian population caught in the middle. This study examines the impact of Union policies and actions on the cycle of violence between occupying and irregular forces. By comparing Winfield Scotts successful counterinsurgency program during the Mexican-American War to the policies of Union leadership, Union planning appears nonexistent. Without an overarching plan, Union reliance on coercive counter measures and pressure on the civilian population intensified the retaliatory violence of both federal troops and irregular forces. For students of irregular war, this study demonstrates not just the unintended impact of occupying forces on an environment, but the importance of holistic planning, and self- awareness when dealing with complex civilian based conflicts.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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