During and shortly after the Civil War, thousands of Border State men and their families sought to escape the war and its consequences by relocating to the American West, that great American destination for ambitious fortune seekers, as well that those fleeing a variety of personal, economic and social pressures.
Rich mining prospects were incentive enough, but factors like deserter status, draft evasion, threats against life and property, and outright banishment led many southern sympathizers to places like Montana Territory … A Montana paper referred to this influx as the “left wing of Price’s army.”
Ken Robison’s Confederates in Montana Territory: In the Shadow of Price’s Army … does touch upon key overlying themes. The opening section outlines population, political, and economic trends in the territory, with 1862 and 1863 gold strikes attracting a flood of opportunists and an uneasy alliance between Irish immigrants and Southern Democrats facilitating that party’s strong showing in the territorial legislature. The book’s final section briefly examines Confederate monument placement and other aspects of Lost Cause memorialization in Montana during the decades following the war.
Background elements aside, individual stories are the real focus of Confederates in Montana Territory. More than a dozen chapter length biographies trace the Civil War and territorial activities of a selected group of men who left war and Reconstruction behind to become Montana miners, businessmen, militia leaders, and even criminals.
In connecting modern Montana residents with their Civil War history through lively personal stories, the book achieves what it sets out to do. Hopefully, it will also inspire others to study the Civil War era’s influence on the social, political and economic development of the Mountain West region.
The profusely illustrated book is a follow-up to last year’s release by the Great Falls author and historian, Montana Territory and the Civil War: A Frontier Forged on the Battlefield.
The book was published November 2014 by The History Press, Charleston, SC, and sells for $19.99 softcover.
– Andrew Wagenhoffer, excerpted with permission from Civil War Books and Authors, cwba.blogspot.com