Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


During the American Civil War, a number of southern irregulars operated behind Union lines. Though often neglected by historians, many of these irregulars proved effective. This study evaluates the different types of irregular combatant found in the South, including guerrillas, partisan rangers, and cavalry raiders, who varied in their identity, legality, and operations. The effectiveness of these fighters is analyzed in terms of their propaganda value, their ability to divert enemy troops, and the defeat of offensives by attacking supply lines. Though the Union attempted to counter these irregular forces, the greatest impediment towards the Confederate irregular war effort was the decisions of the Confederate government itself. The West Point-trained leaders of the South were afraid of losing control of the independent irregulars. As a result, they never implemented policies that would systematically encourage a greater irregular war effort. In doing so, the South neglected to fully pursue a strategy that had great potential to alter the course of the war.

Included in

History Commons