Mackey, Robert R.

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Mackey, Robert R.

(Robert Russell Mackey)


Education: Attended U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; Texas A&M University, Ph.D., 2000.


Office—Science Applications International Corporation, Washington, DC; fax: 703-676-2269.


U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY, former teacher of history; Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. (consulting firm), McLean, VA, former associate; Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Washington, DC, senior Islamic extremist analyst. Military service: U.S. Army, major; served in Kuwait; former member of Pentagon army staff.


Society for Military History, Army and Navy Club, Southern Historical Association.


The Uncivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 1861-1865, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 2004.


Robert R. Mackey is a senior Islamic extremist analyst with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) in Washington, DC. He is a former associate with the international consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. He has also been a major in the U.S. Army, serving in Kuwait and as a member of the army staff at the Pentagon.

Mackey's book The Uncivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 1861-1865 is an expansion of his doctoral dissertation written at Texas A&M University. According to an article posted at the Voyager Learning Company Web site, Mackey's original dissertation was the top-selling dissertation of 2002. "Instead of colorful banners, chivalrous gentlemen-officers, and glorious set-piece battles, the war of ambush and raid, isolated blockhouse, and burned home exemplified the Civil War to many people," Mackey writes in the book's introduction. "Since 1865, historians have examined nearly every facet of the Civil War, … yet most have slighted the subject of an unconventional war that existed alongside the conventional war of myth and memory. It is the express goal of this work to analyze and discuss the underexamined irregular war that the Confederacy fought, and lost, during the Civil War."

The Uncivil War examines the Confederate use of guerrilla warfare tactics—"irregular warfare"—during the American Civil War. Outnumbered by Union forces, the Confederates in some instances resorted to unconventional warfare, hoping for an advantage that would lead them to victory. In Arkansas, for example, once the regular Confederate army had been defeated, guerrilla resistance to the Union army occupation was encouraged. It was hoped that the resistance could tie down Union troops. But the Union army resorted to widespread burning of houses, farms, and public buildings, punishing not only the guerrillas but the general population. Some of the guerrilla bands continued their activities as criminal bands, targeting Union troops and civilians alike. Other guerrilla tactics were employed by regular Confederate troops in Virginia and Tennes- see with greater success. While many Civil War historians believe the South could have waged a guerrilla campaign following their defeat on the battlefield, Mackey argues against this idea. The South's experience of guerrilla tactics during the war showed them that such irregular warfare could only lead to ultimate defeat. "More precisely than any historian who previously examined the subject, Mackey defines the contours of irregular Civil War military operations," according to a critic for the American Historical Review. A critic for the Indiana Magazine of History found that The Uncivil War "provocatively revisits Civil War raiding and guerrilla warfare, in a work of considerable relevance to Hoosier Civil War historiography." Writing for the Ozarks Magazine Web site, Lee Kirk concluded: "Detailed to the extreme, Mackey's book presents a dismal picture of a dismal time, and a more focused look at what was really going on in the Ozarks after the military forces moved elsewhere." "Mackey has provided Civil War historians with a thoughtful, well researched, and ultimately necessary volume….," Kenneth W. Noe wrote in H-CivWar. "One hopes that the author's framework and terminology will become standard, and that his insights will guide future studies of irregular warfare within the American Civil War." "Mackey has done good service in writing this important and erudite book," Robert C. Cheeks stated in the California Literary Review. "It is a must read for any student … because of his obvious scholarship, thoughtful conclusions, and mastery of prose. One hopes Major Mackey has sufficient notes and data to continue his examination of this interesting subject." "The Uncivil War is a well-written and interesting survey of the Confederacy's use of irregular warfare during the Civil War and the techniques used by the Union in its attempts to impede them," according to Robert L. Durham in a review for the Civil War News Web site. "Robert R. Mackey is an expert on guerrilla warfare and some of his conclusions are unique. I recommend this volume." Similarly, Benet Exton of Curled Up with a Good Book concluded that The Uncivil War "is recommended to Civil War enthusiasts interested in irregular warfare and to those also interested in the Western theatre of the War."

Speaking to Chris Wehner of the Blog4History: American and Civil War History, Mackey spoke of the nature of irregular warfare during the Civil War: "In the backcountry, away from the cosmopolitan areas of Richmond or Charleston, the Civil War was a hard war—it was brutal, it was vicious and would have been considered appalling by people even today. Both sides were guilty of what would now be called ‘war crimes.’ Entire communities were put to the torch by both sides without a single thought of chivalry. The war being fought on the battlefield had its own rules and in general these were followed. But outside the main, the war was a civil war at its worst. Part of this was that both sides accused the other of atrocities and then both sides used the incidents to justify their actions." Speaking specifically of the use of guerrilla warfare by Confederates in Arkansas, Mackey explained: "Arkansas was the perfect environment for a guerrilla war. It was isolated, provided a variety of terrain for defense or hiding, and had a fairly divided population when it came to the war itself. I believe the main reason the Confederacy failed to grasp the importance of the state was their overwhelming focus on Virginia as the main theater of war. Arkansas, Texas, the Indian Territory and much of Louisiana were seen as areas to keep Federal troops occupied and to gain men, material and supply from—all to support the armies of Northern Virginia and Tennessee. In my opinion, the Confederate government did these things for a very good reason. Richmond, Atlanta and parts of Alabama were critical industrial areas and provided most of the war materials needed to fight a conventional war. Arkansas, western Virginia and even Kentucky could be considered the periphery of the conflict—an area to maneuver forces to keep the Federals out of the heartland."



American Historical Review, October, 2005, review of The Uncivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 1861-1865.

Indiana Magazine of History, September, 2006, review of The Uncivil War.

Journal of Military History, April, 2005, Richard M. McMurry, review of The Uncivil War, pp. 560-561.

Journal of Southern History, February, 2006, Michael Fellman, review of The Uncivil War, p. 187.


Blog4History: American and Civil War History, (August 4, 2006), Chris Wehner, review of The Uncivil War and interview with Mackey.

California Literary Review, (April 24, 2007), Robert C. Cheeks, review of The Uncivil War.

Civil War News, (June 14, 2008), Robert L. Durham, review of The Uncivil War.

Curled Up with a Good Book, (June 14, 2008), Benet Exton, review of The Uncivil War.

H-CivWar, (January, 2005), Kenneth W. Noe, review of The Uncivil War.

Ozarks Magazine, (June 14, 2008), Lee Kirk, review of The Uncivil War.

University of Oklahoma Press Web site, (June 14, 2008).

Voyager Learning Company Web site, (September 19, 2003), "Dissertation Best-Sellers? American Civil War, e-Topics Make ProQuest List."

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Mackey, Robert R.

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