Thursday, April 05, 2012

Civil War in the Pacific Northwest

1861-65 military conflicts between whites and Indians residing in today's Washington, Idaho, and Oregon are occasionally the subject of book length treatments, but no one has attempted a comprehensive Civil War history of the region. From the publisher's description* of his work, it looks like Scott McArthur's The Enemy Never Came: The Civil War in the Pacific Northwest (Caxton Press, Oct 2012) is on the right track.

* - "Although the Pacific Northwest was the area furthest removed from the actual battles of the Civil War, it was nonetheless profoundly affected by the war. The Enemy Never Came examines the everyday lives of the volunteer soldiers who battled Native American renegades of the region and of the settlers who were deeply affected by the war yet unable to do much about it. Pacific Northwest pioneers soon chose sides, most allying with the North, others supporting the southern states’ right to withdraw from the union. Still others attempted to ignore the entire issue of the War between the States, leaving “that problem” to the folks back East. Because communication with the rest of the nation was slow and tenuous during the early years of the war, the early settlers of what is now Oregon, Washington, and Idaho concentrated on controlling the restive Native Americans whose land and society had been overwhelmed by white settlers. These same settlers, however, nonetheless vigorously argued politics and worried about invaders from the South, from the British colonies to the North, and from the sea, none of whom ever materialized."

6 comments:

  1. The closest previous work would be Kurt Nelson's Fighting in Paradise.

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    1. That one touches briefly on some of the Indian conflicts, but doesn't address the Civil War directly in terms of citizen loyalties, Confederate sympathizing movements, fears of actual shooting war spreading to Oregon and the territories, etc. That's what I'm looking forward to from McArthur.

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  2. Dr. G. Tom Edwards' old master thesis (Oregon Regiments in the Civil War) is actually the best work on the Civil War in the Pacific Northwest, followed by his doctoral dissertation (The Department of the Pacific During the Civil War) and Dr. James Jewell's dissertation (Left Arm of the Republic: The Department of the Pacific During the Civil War) would be next, and last and very limited is the section of Aurora Hunt's book (The Army of the Pacific) dealing with the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Edwards dissertation is available on microfilm and many libraries around the country (I found a copy at a small university in Pennsylvania). Unfortunately his master's thesis is not as available. Dr. Jewell's dissertation is available on the web via the West Virginia University library.

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    1. Yes, by no one attempting one yet, I was only referring to published books and not theses and dissertations. Thanks for mentioning the availability of the Jewell dissertation online. Unfortunately, I keep getting an error when trying to download the pdf

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  3. As a resident of the PNW I am eager to see what McArthur has done to correct this ignored corner of the country during the war. However, having read a very brief article he wrote for a law journal some years back, which contained a number of errors, I have my fears. FYI Edwards has written many articles about the political side of the (pre and )war years in the PNW and I think Jewell published an article on the military side a couple of years ago. The OHQ has published periodic articles on the topic, from many angles, so there is SOME material out there.

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    1. Yes, anyone with an interest in the PNW should grab a copy of the Spring 1999 volume from OHQ, which was a "Civil War in Oregon" special issue.

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