My History Books & Articles

As a military historian I've always been fascinated by the American Civil War, especially the understudied Trans-Mississippi Theater. The war west of the Mississippi started seven years before the attack on Fort Sumter and the hatred the war created lasted much longer there. Below are two books I've written on the Civil War and some articles too.

While the giant armies of the Union and the Confederacy were fighting over cities and strategic strongholds, a large number of warriors from both sides were fighting smaller, more personal battles.
Beginning with the violent struggle known as "Bleeding Kansas," armed bands of irregular fighters began to wage war in every corner of the United States. Many of the names of their commanders have become legendary, including William Quantrill, "Bloody Bill" Anderson, and John S. Mosby, "The Grey Ghost."
To their own people they were heroes; to others they were the first of a new generation of wild west outlaw. Their tactics including robbing banks and trains, kidnapping soldiers and civilians, rustling cattle, and cutting telegraph lines. In fact, it is during the violence of the war that many of America's future outlaw legends would be born, most notably Cole Younger and Frank and Jesse James. In this book, I explore the varied and often daring tactics employed by these famous warriors.
You can buy it here and at many other outlets.
It's also part of volume five of a series on the war in Swedish.

In July of 1863, Federal forces, emboldened by the victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, moved across the Missouri state line south into Confederate-held Arkansas, advancing from the northwest and northeast in a pincer movement that took all of the northern half of the state, including the prosperous Arkansas river valley and the state capital at Little Rock, by September 11. Secure in their position, the Federals began to transfer men to the campaigns east of the Mississippi. This new book's detailed and exciting account highlights all aspects of the raid into Missouri planned by Colonel J.O. Shelby, whose famed "Iron Brigade" was the boldest and most accomplished cavalry outfit in the Trans-Mississippi Theatre.
You can buy it here and at many other outlets.

Civil War articles

Oklahoma's largest Civil War battlefield may become National Park. The Battle of Honey Springs, where the First Kansas Colored Volunteers distinguished themselves and Native Americans fought on both sides.
Civil War reenactor injured in groin by his horse
Vicksburg 1863: America's most important July 4th (besides 1776)
Confederate Submarine set upright for first time since Civil War.
The First Escaped Slave to take up Arms against the Confederacy. An almost forgotten anniversary.
The Civil War's First Land Battle Reenacted in West Virginia. The Battle of Phillipi.
The Civil War's First Important Battle. The Battle of Boonville, MO.
Four Forgotten Civil War Battlefields. All in the Trans-Miss!

Also check out my old blog Civil War Horror, where I used to talk about my Civil War novels and the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi Theater. It's still online!

Of course I'm interested in much more than the Civil War. Here are my other history titles.

In the late 19th century, the new nation-state of Italy was eager to join her European neighbours in creating an international empire, and her eyes turned toward Africa as a source of potential colonies. Securing a foothold in Eritrea on the Red Sea coast, the Italians quickly became embroiled in a shooting war with the Ethiopians. The war proved a disaster for the Italians, who suffered three major defeats against the forces of Emperor Menelik’s army, including a horrendous massacre at Adowa, the largest defeat of a colonial army prior to World War I. This book looks at the campaign with an emphasis on the colourful uniforms worn by both sides.

You can buy it here and at many other outlets.
There's also an Italian edition.

It was the beginning of the end for the James gang. In the past ten years Frank and Jesse James had risen from unknown ex-Confederate guerrillas to become the most famous outlaws in the world. A string of daring robberies had brought them fame, admiration, hatred, and a surprisingly small amount of wealth. In 1876 they planned their most daring raid yet--to ride hundreds of miles from their home state of Missouri to rob the First National Bank at Northfield, Minnesota. With them were Cole, Bob, and Jim Younger, famous outlaws and ex-bushwhackers like James brothers. Charlie Pitts, Bill Chadwell, and Clell Miller, no strangers to gunfighting and outlawry, rode with them. They hit the bank on 7 September 1876.
At least they tried. The tellers fooled the outlaws into thinking they didn't have a key to the safe, and as half of the gang wasted time inside arguing, the outlaws standing guard outside were attacked by the enraged citizenry. A bloody gunfight ensued on Northfield's town square, and before the smoke cleared Chadwell and Miller lay dead and nearly all of the gang had been wounded. They hurried out of town with a posse hot on their trail. Frank and Jesse James split off from their comrades and fought a running battle with several posses before escaping, but the Younger brothers and Pitts made slow progress. They were eventually got cornered and fought a last-ditch gun battle with their pursuers.

This book tells the story of one of the most daring bank jobs in American history. With most of the gang being former bushwhackers, they used many guerrilla tactics in the planning and execution of the raid, yet failed because of poor discipline and their own fame, which meant that every town in the Midwest had their guns loaded waiting to fight off bandits.

Just before the Northfield job, the James gang robbed the Missouri Pacific No. 4 train in order to get money for horses, equipment, and traveling expenses. This heist is also covered in meticulous detail.

You can buy it here and at many other outlets.
There's also an Italian edition.

The Gunfight at the OK Corral on 26 October 1881 is one of the most enduring stories of the Old West. It led to a series of violent incidents that culminated in the Vendetta Ride, in which Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and several other gunslingers went after their rivals the Cowboys. Like most tales of the Wild West, the facts are buried under layers of myth, and the line between good guys and bad guys is blurry. Wyatt Earp, leader of the so-called “good guys”, was charged with stealing horses in the Indian Territory in 1870 and jumped bail. Becoming a buffalo hunter and gambler, he got into several scrapes and earned a reputation as a gunfighter. Several times he helped lawmen arrest outlaws, but usually his assistance came more because of a personal grudge against the criminal than any real respect for law and order. He even got fired from a police job in Wichita for beating up a political rival.

You can buy it here and at many other outlets.

In the early 14th century, a new weapon entered the arsenals of European armies. This first generation of black powder weapons put fear into the heart of the enemy and in 1453 Ottoman cannon succeeded in pummelling the once-impregnable walls of Constantinople. But cannons, which are both slow and cumbersome, were difficult to use and often proved inaccurate. The first handgonnes were the answer. Easily dismissed by later historians as nothing more than crude tubes that shot wildly inaccurate lead balls, more recent research has revealed the true accuracy of the medieval handgonne together with its penetrative power. This volume, complete with detailed illustrations and colour photographs of reconstructed handgonnes, reveals the true history of what could easily have been the most revolutionary weapon in history.This book will be a must for medieval enthusiasts and re-enactors.

You can buy it here and at many other outlets.

True Tales from Missouri’s Past! From Dred Scott’s tireless bid for freedom to the Cardinals’ first World Series win, It Happened in Missouri gives readers a unique look at intriguing people and episodes from the history of the Show-Me State. Find out how a fourteen-year-old boy coordinated the settling of St. Louis. Discover how a steam engine helped save the inaugural ride of the Pony Express through Missouri. And read all about Harry Truman’s come-from-behind victory over Thomas Dewey in the 1948 presidential election.

You can buy it here and at many other outlets.

Meet the Most Notorious Missourians Who Ever Lived! From Kansas City to St. Louis, Missouri never had to settle for your average everyday gunmen—not when it had such outlaws as Jesse James and Cole Younger to call its own. That’s not to mention the Turk brothers’ Slicker War and the Young brothers’ shootout, which helped earn the Ozarks’ reputation as a hotbed of vigilantism.   All this and more—including Missouri’s own mini version of the Civil War and the Union Station Massacre—is yours for the reading in Outlaw Tales of Missouri, which introduces twelve of the most dramatic events, and the most daring and despicable desperadoes, in the history of the Show-Me State.

You can buy it here and at many other outlets.

Originally part of the Louisiana Purchase, Missouri became a state in 1821. Nicknamed "The Gateway to the West" because it was as departure point for Westward-bound settlers, Missouri was also the starting point and return destination for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Interestingly, Missouri has voted for the winning candidate in twenty-five of the past twenty-six presidential elections, with the sole exception of Adlai Stevenson in 1956. The state's most famous son, the writer Mark Twain, set his classic novels, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn on the islands and in the caves around his boyhood home of Hannibal, Missouri. Other Missourians of renown include poet T. S. Eliot, dancers Ginger Rogers and Josephine Baker, film directors John Houston and Robert Altman, educators George Washington Carver and Dale Carnegie, and the outlaw Jesse James. This is a lively and thorough account of Missouri's exciting and pivotal role in history-from the first Native American inhabitants to the territorial period, from the agony of the Civil War to the freewheeling jazz and Prohibition eras, from labour and civil rights struggles to the triumph of the St. Louis Arch. Descriptions of these tumultuous and glorious times come from the diaries, newspaper articles, journals and letters of ordinary Missourians -- reporters, soldiers, merchants and wives who provide first-person testimony to the march of history. Over 50 photographs of leading figures and events, maps of territory drawn and redrawn, a timeline and illustrations of political cartoons, advertisements, and signage bring the past vividly to life in this history of the "Show-Me" state.

You can buy it here and at many other outlets.
Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.