Trans-Mississippi Musings

-About theMuse-

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Dick Titterington, aka theCivilWarMuse

Dick Titterington aka theCivilWarMuse

Hi, my name is Dick Titterington, aka theCivilWarMuse. I am an amateur historian with particular interest in in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War. I am currently retired and living in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area after a 26-year career as an Information Technology professional.

A little more than twenty years ago I was living in Kansas City, Missouri when I, like many others, became interested in the American Civil War after watching the Ken Burns Documentary, The Civil War. The documentary introduced me to Shelby Foote. Shortly thereafter, I read Shelby Foote’s three volume The Civil War: A Narrative, soaking up everything he had to say about the war. Then I read more books that focused on individual battles of the war, Antietam, Shiloh and, of course, Gettysburg.

It was a number of years before I discovered that I was living in a state that was a hotbed of activity during the American Civil War. Indeed, according to Frederick Dyer in his A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, the state of Missouri experienced 1,162 fighting events during the American Civil War. Missouri was third behind Virginia (2,154) and Tennessee (1,462).

Mr. Foote’s three volume Civil War Narrative did not emphasize events that took place west of the Mississippi River. Foote made no mention of Camp Jackson or Boonville, devoted a few pages to Wilson’s Creek and less than a page to Lexington. Mr. Foote covered the Battle of Pea Ridge in about 16 pages and Price’s 1864 Missouri Raid in about 12 pages.

A while ago I decided to partner with a good friend of mine and put together a website about the American Civil War. The website has focused on events taking place in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the war, which means everything west of the Mississippi River. The result of this collaboration was (and still is) I had enjoyed visiting Civil War battlefields and the website’s virtual tours became a way of describing for others what I saw during my visits. It then occurred to me that the next step would be to share my experiences with others face-to-face.

So for the last two years I have been teaching a series of classes on the American Civil War for an organization called SPARK. These classes have focused on events during the 1850s and 1860s in Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas. SPARK is an acronym that stands for Senior Peers Actively Renewing Knowledge. SPARK is an Elderhostel Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI) and a member of the Elderhostel Institute Network. SPARK partners with the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which allows SPARK to operate in a collegiate environment supported by the intellectual and cultural resources of the university.

Well, I took the next step and decided to start writing a series of books. Surprise, the name of the series is Trans-Mississippi Musings. I published the first book, The Battle of Pilot Knob, earlier this year. Trans-Mississippi Musings are meant to be books that cover an event taking place in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. The books are intended to be part narrative and part eye-witness accounts. These books tell the stories using the words of the individuals who were present when the event took place. I use original source material from letters, diaries, official records and memoirs. What really appeals to me when reading the accounts written by the participants is how dramatic their accounts can be. I can only imagine this, but I expect their adrenaline was flowing when they recounted the events.

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