JOPLIN — A local author has written another Civil War book with ties to Southwest Missouri.

JOPLIN — A local author has written another Civil War book with ties to Southwest Missouri.

“The Siege of Lexington, Missouri: The Battle of the Hemp Bales,” is written by Larry Wood.

Following victories at Carthage and Wilson’s Creek in the summer of 1861, the Confederate-allied Missouri State Guard achieved its greatest success when it advanced on Lexington in September. Former Missouri governor Gen. Sterling Price and his men laid siege for three days against a Union garrison under the command of Col. James Mulligan. An ingenious mobile breastwork of hemp bales soaked in water, designed to absorb hot shot, enabled the Confederates to close in on Sept. 20 (1861) and force surrender.

“The siege of Lexington was significant in that it represented the zenith for the Missouri State Guard, and the Rebel victory was celebrated by Southern sympathizers throughout the state,” said Wood.

The Battle of Lexington occurred Sept. 18-20, 1861.

“After three days, the Union surrendered,” said Wood. “They (Union forces) blamed it a lot on the fact that they were running low on water, food and so forth. The (Union) enlisted men, they (Missouri State Guard) made them swear an oath that they would not take up arms against the Confederates. But they took all of the officers prisoner and later exchanged them, they took some of them south with them, when they finally came back down here into southern Missouri.”

As far as the significance of the new book to Southwest Missouri, Wood told the reason.

“One fairly direct effect of the outcome of the battle on Southwest Missouri was the secession convention that occurred at Neosho in late October 1861,” he said. “Such a convention might well have occurred even if the Missouri State Guard had been defeated at Lexington, but the Southern victory perhaps hastened the events at Neosho and certainly caused them to be attended with more excitement.”

Another aspect of the significance was that Price was instrumental in the Second Battle of Missouri.

“The second (battle) is when he was during his great raid, when he was trying to retake the state of Missouri in the fall of 1864,” Wood said.

This is the third book that Wood has written for the History Press dealing with the Civil War in Missouri. His other books are “The Two Civil War Battles of Newtonia” and “Civil War Springfield.”

Wood is a retired public school teacher and freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. He has published two historical novels, 10 nonfiction history books, and numerous magazine stories and articles.

The Neosho Daily News asked Wood a couple of questions about his new book.

NDN: How did you decide to write the new Civil War book?

Wood: Actually, I had not even (thought of) doing a book on Lexington, but I got an email from Jim McGhee, of Jefferson City, Mo., who is also a Civil War buff, writer and researcher in Missouri. He suggested that this might be something that I would be interested in doing. McGhee even supplied a lot of bibliography, I still had to do the research, but he at least he gave me a lot of places to start looking, he gave me a head start on my research.

NDN: How did you get some of your research for this book?

Wood: A lot of the photos came from Wilson’s Creek Battlefield, library, and museum there. They provided a lot of the military photos. I took some of them myself. I made three or four trips to Lexington. I did some research there at the state historic site. I did some research around, some of it by Inter Library Loan – which is how I do a lot and the Internet, you can do a lot more by Internet now that you use to be able to. There are more actual records online.

NDN: When did you start writing the book?

Wood: I started in October 2013 and I was finished by March 2014.

NDN: How pleased are you with the outcome of the book?

Wood: I liked it. One reason why I liked it maybe even a little better than some of my other stuff that I have done for History Press, is that I decided this time to take more of a scholarly approach, by that I mean I included actual citations like footnotes, or endnotes, whereas in the past I just included bibliography.

NDN: What is next for you?

Wood: My next project that I have got in mind is I am researching right now – I don’t have a publisher for it right yet – is the loved ones of the Bushwhackers, their wives, girlfriends, sisters, looking at it from the civilian standpoint. A lot of them were arrested for giving aid and comfort.

Useful information

“The Siege of Lexington Missouri: The Battle of Hemp Bales” is 158 pages, with various photographs and is available wherever books are sold. It is also available as an e-book. For a complete listing of History Press books, visit