Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Newtonia

I am currently in Columbia, where for the past day or two I've been doing some research at the State Historical Society of Missouri and at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection on the MU campus for a book I am writing about the two battles of Newtonia. When I first undertook this project, I worried that there wouldn't be enough material for a book-length manuscript (minimum length approximately 40,000 words). How much can a person write about two relatively minor Civil War battles? I asked myself. However, I'm beginning to think that lack of material may not as much of a problem as I first anticipated. There's a lot more than one might think about the Newtonia battles. Some of the sources I was completely unaware of until I started research for the book--for instance, M. Jeff Thompson's memoir here in Columbia at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection. Thompson commanded Shelby's brigade of Shelby's division during Price's invasion of Missouri in the fall of 1864, and he wrote fairly extensively about the campaign in his memoirs, including a petty good account of the Second Battle of Newtonia.
Thompson, by the way, was quite a colorful character. The mayor of St. Joseph before the Civil War, he was named a brigadier general in the Missouri State Guard when the war broke out and earned a reputation in southeast Missouri as the "swamp fox of the Confederacy." Thompson fancied himself a poet of sorts, and some of his writings are interesting to read.

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