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True Crime in the Civil War: Cases of Murder, Treason, Counterfeiting, Massacre, Plunder & Abuse [Kindle Edition]

Tobin T. Buhk

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Product Description


"A rare novelty in the profusion of writing about the Civil War, a volume that takes a different approach."--Susan Branch"Joplin Independent" (04/10/2012)

Product Description

"Crime did not take a holiday during the Civil War, far from it. As Tobin Buhk shows in this fast-paced narrative, the war created new opportunities to gain profits from illegal activities, to settle old scores against personal enemies under the cover of fighting the nation's enemies, to pillage, plunder, and murder amid the carnage and destruction that seemed to offer license to legitimize such crimes. Students of the Civil War will find new information in this readable account." --James M. McPherson,Author of Battle Cry of Freedom

  • Examines criminal cases during the conflict
  • Cases include currency counterfeiting, tyrannical actions of Gen. Benjamin Butler, the murder of Gen. Earl van Dorn, raids by William Quantrill's Bushwhackers, the Fort Pillow Massacre, the horrific prison conditions at Andersonville, the fate of Lincoln the assassination conspirators, and more

  • Product Details

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 4420 KB
    • Print Length: 320 pages
    • Publisher: Stackpole Books (Feb. 16 2012)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B007R8QDNG
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Enabled
    • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
    • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #464,790 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

    Customer Reviews

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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
    6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Just When You Thought the Civil War Couldn't Get Any Bloodier! July 15 2012
    By Mike O'Connor - Published on
    Civil wars are traditionally some of the most savage conflicts fought on or off the battlefield. Tobin Buhk's TRUE CRIME IN THE CIVIL WAR offers up sixteen tales of murder most foul, deadly duels, massacres, arson, riots, banditry, and various other acts of "audacious, brutal, bodacious or bizarre" behavior during the Civil War years.

    Many of the events and personalities that roam through the pages of Buhk's book will be familiar to Civil War buffs such as Benjamin 'the Beast' Butler, William Quantrill & the sacking of Lawrence, General Van Dorn's murder, Nathan Bedford Forrest & the Fort Pillow Massacre, the attempted burning of Manhattan, Andersonville's Commandant Henry Wirz, the Booth Conspirators, etc. Other stories such as Sam Upham's counterfeiting scheme, the Walker-Marmaduke duel and the slaughter of the Beckham family aren't as well known.

    Buhk did a good job researching the various stories. Over the years many of the events in TRUE CRIME IN THE CIVIL WAR have acquired a layer of half-truths, myths and legends. Buhk uses many first-person reminiscences, documentation and a historian's objectivity to present a comprehensive, fair-minded account of each tale. Likewise, he includes a number of photographs, documents and illustrations that bring the often bloody events to life.

    After reading TRUE CRIME IN THE CIVIL WAR, the reader will be in absolute agreement with Buhk's assertion that "Crime did not take a holiday during the Civil War." Recommended.
    4.0 out of 5 stars Good and entertaining read Sept. 16 2015
    By Jenn - Published on
    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    A good book for history buffs. Adequately researched, and including some off-the-beaten path stories as well as the more famous--and infamous--events, the book held my interest. A serious academic tome it is not, but there is a substantial Endnotes section as well as the bibliography for further reading.

    Four stars for the Kindle version, because even though the content itself was just fine, the editing and formatting errors were a little too numerous to ignore, not the least of which was the irritating issue of photo captions appearing on the page following the photo/image.
    5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars a good read, but with some issues Nov. 10 2012
    By C. P. Anderson - Published on
    The Civil War and true crime - two of my favorite topics. I'm surprised no one ever wrote a book like this before.

    The book covers a number of stories that you are probably already familiar with - the Lincoln assassination, Andersonville, and the Lawrence KS massacre. There are also some that I, personally, had heard of but didn't know much about - Earl Van Dorn's murder, the Ft. Pillow massacre, and Benjamin Butler in New Orleans. There were also some great stories about some things I had never heard of - a Yankee counterfeit scheme, a Rebel plot to burn down Manhattan, and the (bogus) story of the female marauder Sue Mundy.

    Unfortunately, there were also a couple of stories that were so obscure that I'm really not sure why they were included - a white family murdered in Tennessee by some freed blacks and a NC woman who shoots her former slave. I took some points off for these, as well as some typos and missing fact checks.

    What I really didn't like about this one, though, was a real bias toward the South. I personally have no biases myself (I consider myself a Southerner), and really don't mind the average Civil War buff leaning to one side or the other, but I expect more from a book, and was really surprised how blatant some of this was (especially given the author's from Michigan).

    For example, all of the well-known stories I mentioned above are given a pro-Rebel spin with the author seeing the trials as rushes to judgement at best and witch trials at worst. Here, for example, is what he says about the trial of Henry Wirtz, the Andersonville commandant:

    "About a week after proceedings began, Wirtz's attorney had had enough of the circus trial."

    He also wonders if Wirtz was a "murderer or a martyr." He takes a similar tack for some of the South's worst marauders. These include Champ Ferguson and even Bill Quantrill, with Buhk calling the latter a "bushwhacking cavalier."

    I think the author was simply trying to drum up some controversy and drama to help sell the book. Unfortunately, that was totally unnecessary, as the true crime he presents is quite interesting in itself.
    4.0 out of 5 stars Error Sept. 5 2015
    By Big Al - Published on
    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    So far this is an extremely interesting book. However, I have noticed an error in the chapter: The Lawrence Massacre and the Not-So-Civil War of Quantrill, Anderson, and the James Brothers 1863. It says the counties of Jackson, Cass, Bates, and Vernon are along the Mississippi River. This is impossible. Those counties are on Missouri's western border and the Mississippi is on the eastern border.
    1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Civil War events June 17 2012
    By Jetpack - Published on
    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    I like to haunt the free eBook section in History, as Stackpole especially likes to put books up for free at times. So, I grabbed True Crime when I saw it.

    It's 4,434 locations long, and the author does a nice job of relaying the events he has included. I have to agree that it's pretty darn hard to know for certain what happened 150 years ago, but he does his best.

    Here is a list of the events/people covered:

    Castle Thunder - a prison in Richmond
    Sam Upham and counterfeiting
    Benjamin Butler - probably still hated in New Orleans
    Sack of Athens, GA
    Feuding generals - one murder and one duel between generals
    Detroit draft riot
    Murder of the Beckham Family
    Lawrence, KS massacre
    Murder of Gen. Van Dorn
    Fort Pillow Massacre
    Plot to Burn Manhattan, NY
    Sue Mundy - this one is especially interesting - an invented female bushwacker
    Trial of the Lincoln Assassin conspirators
    Champ Ferguson's rampage
    Temperance Neely and the ex-slave she killed

    This is a very well done book, and worth getting. I wonder if over $13, the price at the time of the review is too high, but that is clearly the decision of the readers. Definitely worth considering if you want more information on crimes during the Civil War.

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