A book by Ralph A Monaco II
Preparing for my trip to Lone Jack, Missouri to visit The Battle of Lone Jack State Historic Site, I wanted to continue the trend of doing a reading beforehand to help me better understand the Battle itself, the socio-political feeling of the area at the time, and help fill in any blanks that might be there if a tour guide isn’t present or something. These “smaller” battles sometimes get ignored by most Civil War historians (especially being west of the Mississippi River), so finding published works on them for public consumption is sometimes hard. I found this book on Amazon for a relatively good price, and found out that it was published locally, so I jumped on it.
This book largely covers Western Missouri in 1862 in a fairly in-depth manner despite the page count. This book introduces us to this setting initially by dipping into some information about the so-called “Bleeding Kansas” series of battles that arguably started the war, and a look at 1863’s general order 11. Order 11 was a controversial military order that drove thousands of families out of the western part of Missouri to help curtail said fighting, with the side affect of souring most rural Missourians on the Union itself. The “meat and potatoes” of the book, however, talk about 1862’s The first Battle of Independence and The Battle of Lone Jack. In many ways, one can think of these as two halves of a longer battle, with them being a mere five days apart. For more information on the battles themselves, please stay tuned as I will talk about them in my upcoming articles on the Historic sites.
“Discover the events surrounding the encroachment of America’s Civil War into Jackson County, Missouri, which for several years before the War was a hotbed of strife and guerrilla warfare among the pioneers of Missouri and settlers of the newly created territory of Kansas. What ignited a fury of wartime activity started with the August 1862 First Battle of Independence and the Battle of Lone Jack a week later.”Book Description
Ralph Monaco does a great job with this book. This is a self-published book, so you know what to expect with one of those – typos here and there, formatting issues etc. There is a bit of that, but luckily it isn’t egregious and end gets better as you read on. The later portion of the book is largely comprised of primary source documents that the author used doing research for the book, which is always a cool thing to see in something like this. He also cites all of sources and footnotes everything. I feel that this is on par with those Civil War Sesquicentennial books that I’ve been reading as part of this series. This book, however, is very short – a fact that is understandable considering the narrow topic at hand. I was glad to see these battles given time to shine, as they are often mentioned as mere footnotes in most books on the subject.
All-in-all, I was happy with my purchase and will have to look for more by this author. A quick glance at Amazon shows he has a number of books on outlaws and Order no 11, so I will likely be checking some of those out in the near future (stay tuned). I absolutely love the care with minutiae and using lo al sources that these specialized, and local, books tend to use – some of the bigger ones have a tendency to editorialize too much for my taste, so something that just lays the facts out is preferable.