This was written around the mid 20th century by an author who (I think) was also known for sci-fi, but this was about a real person and (more or less) based on real events.

The protagonist was a Confederate leader in the US civil war. He was not a secessionist, but lived in a state that had voted to secede from the Union and felt that the Union's position in the war was anti-democratic, so he was willing to fight for his state.

After hearing that one of the main Union leaders had decided to focus all his energy on the front lines, he said something like "if he won't look after his back, then I will" and spent the war harassing the Union army's supply lines.

He was a kind of freelancer, making money by looting the enemy instead of being employed/commissioned, which allowed him greater freedom. I'm pretty sure it said his talent for strategy led to him being offered a commission later in the war, but he turned it down because his men would earn less as regular soldiers so he'd have more trouble finding recruits.

There was a summary saying he'd caused the Union army to divert a significant amount of effort away from the front, and a brief epilogue about what he did after the war.

I read it on Project Gutenberg, but having forgotten the names of the author, book and main character I haven't managed to find it again.

  • For copyright reasons, almost all Project Gutenberg books were published before 1923
    – mikado
    Nov 16, 2019 at 10:51
  • That's largely true, but there are US magazine articles (including stories) as late as the 60s for which the copyright has expired, and a lot can be found on PG. As I understand it, the publishers had to make some effort to renew the copyrights after a certain amount of time, and a lot of them didn't. Nov 18, 2019 at 16:21
  • You are quite right @Pastychomper
    – mikado
    Nov 18, 2019 at 17:56
  • 1
    You might like The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. Nov 24, 2019 at 5:08

1 Answer 1


Rebel Raider by H. Beam Piper looks like a possibility. It ends with:

Jeb Stuart left John Singleton Mosby behind Northern lines "to look after loyal Confederate people." But before the war was over, Mosby did a lot more than that....

A True Book-Length Feature

  • Yes, that's the one, thank you! I see I mis-remembered one or two details but that's definitely the story I was looking for. Nov 18, 2019 at 16:21

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