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Monday, November 26, 2012

Plundering the enemy in the Civil War

Victory in war is not just marked by territory gained and the number of enemy killed, it's also measured by the material you take from him. The Official Records of the Civil War are filled with accounts--boasts, really--of the amount of booty taken from a defeated enemy.

In Missouri, for example, the 10th Kansas Volunteer Infantry was moving through western Missouri hunting Confederate bushwhackers in September of 1862. They burned the houses, outbuildings, and provisions of a dozen known guerrillas and took 100 stand of arms, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, four yoke of oxen, five wagons, a number of tents, dry goods, and camp equipment. Presumably these were found in the houses, as no actual combat is recorded. They also recovered property stolen during Quantrill's raid on Olathe, Kansas, on September 6. As the regiment headed back to Kansas, some sixty African-Americans followed them to freedom.

The rebels did some prize taking themselves. A report from September 11 says, "Confederates made off today with a 24-pounder howitzer in a skirmish at Bloomfield. They are now headed toward Holcomb's Island with the howitzer in tow."

Photo courtesy Library of Congress. This ruined home is actually in Petersburg, Virginia.


  1. I'm sure ammunition was needed by both sides at that point.

  2. Interesting take err... on the loot issue. I liked your post on the Northfield Raid. Jesse James may have heard of our state motto "Minnesota Nice" but was too dumb to realize it didn't apply to the consequences of trying to rob our banks....:)

  3. It's funny but when I think of plundering, I think of vikings not the Civil War. It certainly makes logical sense now that you point it out though.
    I've visited Osprey and Gadling and left comments for your recent articles. Great work! :-)


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