Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand

$24.95

The Renowned Missouri Bushwhacker
Kirby Ross
Edited by Daniel E. Sutherland
978-1-55728-877-6 (paper)
November 2005 (cloth)
February 2016 (paper)

 

Add to Cart

Most Civil War historians now agree that the guerrilla conflict shaped the entire war in significant ways. Some of these “bushwhackers”—Nathan Bedford Forrest, William Clarke Quantrill, John Singleton Mosby—have become quite infamous. Illiterate Sam Hildebrand, one of Missouri’s most notorious guerrillas—often compared to “Rob Roy,” and the subject of dime novels—was one of the few to survive the war and have his story taken down and published. Shortly after this he was killed in a barroom brawl.

Hildebrand’s reign of terror gave the Union army fits and kept much of the Trans-Mississippi, especially Missouri, roiling in the 1860s. Over seven years of fighting he and his men killed dozens of soldiers and civilians, whites and blacks; he claimed to have killed nearly one hundred himself. He was accused of many heinous acts.

The historical significance of Hildebrand’s story is substantial, but his bloody tale is eminently readable and stands quite well on its own as a cold-blooded portrait of a violent time in American history. Like the nightmarish and depraved world of the Kid in Cormac McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian, Hildebrand’s world is truly ruthless and his story is brutally descriptive in its coolly detached rendering of one man’s personal war.

Published in 1870, Hildebrand’s autobiography has long been out of print and has been a rare and highly prized acquisition among Civil War historians and enthusiasts.

“A superb modern edition of a rare 1870 imprint . . . a vivid impression of a boastfully murderous mentality unique in Civil War historiography.”
—Michael Fellman, author of The Making of Robert E. Lee and Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War

“This is a must book for all interested in separating the fact from fiction regarding Civil War guerrilla warfare and those who waged it.”
—Albert Castel, author of William Clarke Quantrill: His Life and Times

“An exciting ‘read’ combined with the truth behind Hildebrand’s story.”
—Robert R. Mackey, author of The Uncivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 1861–1865

Kirby Ross is the recipient of a Kansas Governor’s Proclamation for his book The True Life Wild West Memoir of a Bush-popping Cow Waddy. He has received several Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence, and his work has appeared in many publications.

“One of the most controversial aspects of the American Civil War is the guerrilla conflict that raged in Missouri and Arkansas. While historians have recently given this struggle more scholarly attention, research is often hampered by a lack of sources. Fortunately, the most notorious Confederate guerrilla in southeast Missouri, Samuel S. Hildebrand, published an autobiography shortly before his death in 1871. . . . Out of print for decades, Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand: The Renowned Missouri Bushwhacker has been republished. . . . Kirby Ross has done an outstanding job of preparing Hildebrand’s autobiography for republication.”
Arkansas Historical Quarterly

“A valuable scholarly addition to the growing legacy in Civil War literature on the nature of guerilla warfare and its regional impact.”
H-CivWar

“Historians have long questioned the veracity of Hildebrand’s tale. Ross’s editing of the controversial work is superb. His meticulous, exhaustive research provides a fascinating counterpoint, revealing Hildebrand’s errors, exaggerations, and outright lies.”
Journal of Southern History

“This is a must book for all interested in separating the fact from fiction regarding Civil War guerrilla warfare and those who waged it.”
—Albert Castel, author of William Clarke Quantrill: His Life and Times

“A superb modern edition . . . a vivid impression of a boastfully murderous mentality unique in Civil War historiography.”
—Michael Fellman, author of Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri during the American Civil War

Civil War in the West Series Logo

“The Civil War in the West has a single goal: to promote historical writing about the war in the western states and territories. It focuses most particularly on the Trans-Mississippi theater, which consisted of Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, most of Louisiana (west of the Mississippi River), Indian Territory (modern day Oklahoma), and Arizona Territory (two-fifths of modern day Arizona and New Mexico) but encompasses adjacent states, such as Kansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi, that directly influenced the Trans-Mississippi war. It is a wide swath, to be sure, but one too often ignored by historians and, consequently, too little understood and appreciated.

Topically, the series embraces all aspects of the wartime story. Military history in its many guises, from the strategies of generals to the daily lives of common soldiers, forms an important part of that story, but so, too, do the numerous and complex political, economic, social, and diplomatic dimensions of the war. The series also provides a variety of perspectives on these topics. Most importantly, it offers the best in modern scholarship, with thoughtful, challenging monographs.

Secondly, it presents new editions of important books that have gone out of print. And thirdly, it premieres expertly edited correspondence, diaries, reminiscences, and other writings by participants in the war.

It is a formidable challenge, but by focusing on some of the least familiar dimensions of the conflict, The Civil War in the West significantly broadens our understanding of the nation’s most pivotal and dramatic story.”

—Daniel Sutherland, from the preface of I Do Wish This Cruel War Was Over