The Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy by Brownlee underscores that about 100 Confederate irregulars in the Missouri war were produced by circumstances and only nurtured by the southern sympathizers. It was not something that sprang from naught but an impending response to abuse from the imposition of a police sate…
At the same time, they did not favor going to war with the Southern states. Some points of Brownlee's rendition of history appear to reflect this seeming ambivalence, but not when one goes full circle to consider that things happened in war that usually does not happen at other times. While his book is expected to give evidence of the Gray confederate position where the guerillas were supposed heroes trying to treat a malady from the oppression of its Blue enemies, Brownlee described events in a language obviously not couched to protect the supposed Gray confederates. He also told of their misdeeds, a reality of what war has made of them. This was to equal the scope of martial law in Missouri that presented a complete picture of the Union's abuses.
Told from the eyes mostly of a confederate, the purpose of the book is clearly to relate about the civil war from the context of struggling from the ruthlessness of the enemy or the Union. Achieving a purpose in terms of writing is normally quantified by its impact on the people - for whom it is written - what effects the piece of writing had, and how sustained the effect is. The Missouri war, however, even until today, is seen from two sides and can only be understood, depending upon which side one's sympathies lay; and further, how wide one's perspective is willing to reach out. As it is, each side tries to present its own version. The Missouri war as seen today is actually a contest of facts with each side trying to assert its own "truth." Today, students of history are enjoined to read writings from either side in order to weigh for themselves the facts of history.
Whether Brownlee's purpose has been achieved depends upon where this contest for the pool of facts may lead the readers. What cannot be ignored, however, is that it is painful for a group to aim for a cause and then have internal quarrels often - finally with one [General McCulloch] seizing the other [Quantrill] just like an enemy. From Brownlee's book, some of the men were very young, placed at the violence of the war amid deprivation. These are enough to say much about the causes why they had to take up arms. Against the backdrop of atrocities of the enemy, these cry for understanding from the reader - some clear marks for a purpose being achieved.
Bias in a writer is relative. Although writing is an art, writing of historical events requires more circumspection from the historical writer than most. One must recast the events in as truthful manner as one can. The tone of Brownlee as a writer may reveal "bias," beginning with one's use of words. Brownlee, throughout most of the book, has actually shown his sympathies for the Confederate Guerillas, who others would look at as ruthless killers and not guerillas. Expectedly, he would refer to the works of the enemy as "Union militia atrocities." If he is seen as biased in favor of the Confederates, there were times he was surprisingly respectful of Union figures as in rendering events in a judgmental yet brutally frank manner. These lines, for example are intriguing -
"The last weeks of August and first weeks of September 1864, saw the guerrillas north and south of the Missouri River in continuous violent attack against Union forces. In Johnson County, George Todd and his boys ...
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(“Guerrilla Warfare in the West Book Report/Review”, n.d.)
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(Guerrilla Warfare in the West Book Report/Review)
“Guerrilla Warfare in the West Book Report/Review”, n.d. https://studentshare.net/miscellaneous/307984-guerrilla-warfare-in-the-west.
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