“The Case of Civil War Missouri”: Public Talk w/ LSU’s Aaron Sheehan-Dean


A rare non-Jesse Hall 410 event, LSU Fred C. Frey Professor of Southern Studies and History Department Chair Aaron Sheehan-Dean will be in Columbia on November 21 to give a talk on Civil War-era guerrilla violence in Missouri and the Union Army’s counter-insurgency campaign against it (see below for abstract). The talk will be held at 5:30pm in Cook Hall at the new Center for Missouri Studies.


Missouri experienced the worst guerrilla violence in the American Civil War. In response, the Union Army initiated a counter-insurgency campaign that exerted pressure on the civilian communities from which guerrillas drew strength. Although these were non-lethal policies, they created great hardship for non-combatants across the state, culminating in General Order No. 11, the most far-reaching American military policy directed at civilians in US history. In everything they did, the Union Army claimed to be following the laws of war, which were designed to protect non-combatants. What protections did the law offer? What responsibilities did citizens bear for the actions taken by guerrillas in their midst? These questions remain with us in contemporary warfare—in Afghanistan, Israel, and Syria, among other places. The experience of Civil War Missouri offers answers that illuminate the past and provide some guide to the present.


Aaron Sheehan-Dean is the Fred C. Frey Professor of Southern Studies at Louisiana State University and the chairman of the History Department. He teaches courses on nineteenth-century U.S. history, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and Southern History. He is the author of The Calculus of Violence: How Americans Fought the Civil War, which received the 2019 American Civil War Museum book prize, Why Confederates Fought: Family and Nation in Civil War Virginia, and Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War, and he is also the editor of several other books.