FELLMAN, Michael




From Madison, Wisconsin, Fellman is professor of history and director of the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at SFU who specializes in American history. Inside War is Fellman’s 1889 look at guerilla violence in Missouri during the American civil war. “Warfare in that state included some of the most widespread, prolonged and destructive fighting in American history,” says Fellman. “The guerilla conflict truly was a spontaneous creation of the people, by the people, for the people, and against the people. The Missouri guerillas set their own rules for a war in which little mercy was shown or expected. Their methods were robbery, arson, murder and terrorism, but they believed that they were noble American revolutionaries fighting for the liberation of Missouri from the Yankee invader. They saw themselves as the defenders of helpless women and children, blood avengers for their brothers, comrades, and civilian supporters killed by the Federals. They were free men on the hunt for justice, killing evil, bad-principled men in the name of traditional American liberty.”

In 1860, there was a population of 30,000 in four southeastern Missouri counties. Five years later, at the end of the war, the population in those embattled counties totaled no more than 1,500. Everyone had left, been killed, or driven out. “It was a war more savage, more inhumane, more bloody, than any ever seen elsewhere on the continent,” says Fellman. “For four years Missouri, much of Kansas and parts of Arkansas were terrorized by roving guerilla bands searching for fun, plunder or revenge.” At the war’s end, most guerillas walked away from their bloody careers, put down their guns, and became peaceful farmers and family men again. Fellman found himself “painfully drawn into accounts of emotional and physical lives which most of us avoid, not because we have different characters, but because the grace of god has allowed us to live our lives in relative peace. “As a nice, middle-class student, a native of Madison, Wisconsin, I could avoid participating in the Viet Nam war. But I was haunted by brutal televised images of the destruction of Vietnamese people and by the faces of those returning vets, who always looked so stricken. It generated a need to come to terms about what the war in Viet Nam meant to the Vietnamese, as well as to American culture as a whole.”

Fellman’s 1995 study of the American Civil War is Citizen Sherman: A Life of William Tecumseh Sherman. It was General Sherman who both articulated and practiced the relentless scorched-earth policy that broke the heart of the Confederacy. “There’s many who looks on war as all glory,” said Sherman, “but boys, it’s all hell.” Shellman concludes Sherman deliberately made the war hell for Southern civilians. “He was a psychological terrorist with a reputation for madness,” says Fellman. Southerners knew he was capable of anything, and this terror, according to Fellman, shortened the war. Citizen Sherman is a story about Sherman the boy, the West Point student, the failed soldier and banker subject to fits of depression so severe he contemplated suicide. It’s also about Sherman the husband, father and adulterer, as well as the brutal leader whose philosophy was to inflict as much misery as he could on Southern civilians.

This Terrible War: The Civil War and Its Aftermath, Fellman’s 2003 study of the same era, explores the political, economic, military, and human events. With co-authors Lesley Gordon of the University of Akron and history professor Daniel Sutherland, Fellman suggests that political compromises might have saved more than a million Americans from being wounded or killed on the battlefield.

BOOKS:

In the Name of God and Country: Reconsidering Terrorism in American History (Yale University Press 2010).
This Terrible War: The Civil War and Its Aftermath (Longman Press, 2003)
The Making of Robert E. Lee (New York: Random House, 2000)
Citizen Sherman: A Life of William Tecumseh Sherman (New York, Random House, 1995)
Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri during the American Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989)
Making Sense of Self: Medical Advice Literature in Late Nineteenth-Century America, co-author (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981, co-author)
The Unbounded Frame: Freedom and Community in Nineteenth-Century American Utopianism (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1973)

Edited Books

James Russell Young, "Around the World with General Grant" (1879--Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), abridged and edited, with an introduction.
William T. Sherman, "Personal Memoirs" (1886--New York: Penguin Classics, 2000), introduction and notes. Robertus Love
"The Rise and Fall of Jesse James" (1926--Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990), pp.vii-xx. Introduction
"Antislavery Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Abolitionists", co-editor (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979)

[BCBW 2012]