EDITORIAL: Crowder collection helps us tell our Civil War stories

·2 min read

Sep. 6—We've always said that our area has an amazing but underappreciated and undertold Civil War story.

It includes John Brown's raid in 1858 to liberate enslaved Blacks in Southwest Missouri, the battle of Carthage on July 5, 1861 — called at that time "the first serious conflict between the United States troops and the rebels" — and the second battle of Newtonia in late 1864, the final act in Missouri and one of the last of war in the Trans-Mississippi West.

These events are bookends for understanding the war on the frontier, and the in-between includes many infamous and historic episodes and battles, such as first combat in the Civil War by Black soldiers at Island Mound, the role of guerrillas throughout the region, and more.

Now we can add one more stop to that story.

Crowder College.

Crowder was recently named the recipient of one of the largest collections of Civil War literature in the region, more than 1,400 volumes donated by Daniel Sutherland, a history professor at the University of Arkansas who recently retired.

"We are just gobsmacked. This is not something we could have done," Denna Clymer, chair of the social science division at Crowder, told us. "We would not have been able to corral the resources to complete a collection of this magnitude."

Sutherland is one of the leading experts on the Civil War, including war in the Trans-Mississippi, and among his many books is "A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War."

"This is probably the most comprehensive Civil War library you will find the region," Clymer also told us. "Those items are an incredible addition to a library of our size."

This, a spectacular contribution to understanding the Civil War, could be the genesis for future scholars who will tell our story.

If you're interested, Crowder College will host an event for Sutherland at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wright Conference Center in the Arnold Farber Building on the Neosho campus. A talk titled "Hundreds of Little Wars: Community, Conflict and the Real Civil War in the Ozarks" will be presented by Matthew Stith, an associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Tyler. Stith earned his bachelor's degree in history at Missouri Southern State University, and his master's degree and doctorate at the University of Arkansas.

This donation is a generous one, and a coup for Crowder, and we'd like to add our thanks also to Sutherland for this gift.