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Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith
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Rifles for Watie (1957)

by Harold Keith

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Jeff joins the Union Army in Kansas and fights in the Civil War for a few years. Stuff happens, of course, but that's the gist of it. This book took me forever to read. Not because it's long - it isn't, especially - but because it just didn't really hold my interest. I think I've just read too much about The Civil War. I did like reading about the Native American involvement, which is something that doesn't come up much in a lot of the narratives. But I already knew a lot about camp life and battles from that era, and I was not comfortable with the slave characters, who all seemed to love their masters so much. That said, if you want to read and otherwise fairly realistic depiction of the Civil War out in the western territories, this is a decent read. Just be sure to read other stuff to give it the proper context. ( )
  melydia | Dec 22, 2017 |
This book won the Newbery Medal for "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children" in 1958.  Unlike most Civil War novels, it is set on the western front, specifically in (what is now) Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Jefferson Davis "Jeff" Bussey is sixteen-year-old farm boy in Linn County, Kansas, when the war begins in 1861.  Inspired by his admiration for Abraham Lincoln and an attack on his family by pro-slavery Missouri bushwhackers, he joins the Kansas Volunteers at Fort Leavenworth.

Jeff is eager to see battle, but has only a background role initially.  Later he learns the harsh realities of combat, moves from the infantry, to an emergency participation in the artillery, to the cavalry, and becomes a scout.  His time "undercover" on the Confederate side was one of the most interesting parts of the book.  He learns that the Rebels are people just like him, and when he falls in love with a Confederate Cherokee girl, he feels torn between the two sides.

Although I'm not much for war fiction, this book held my interest throughout it.  It's well-written and provides much insight into the day-to-day life of soldiers in the Civil War's western front.  The reading level and content of this book makes it more appropriate for grade 6 and up.

Author Harold Keith, a native Oklahoman who had a master's degree in history, interviewed 22 Confederate veterans then living in Oklahoma and Arkansas as part of his research for the book.  He also read diaries and journals of mostly Union veterans, and hundreds of letters, including many from the mixed-blood Cherokees who participated in the war, such as family members of the Confederate general Stand Watie of the title (although there is no evidence Watie ever attempted to get the repeating rifles of the title and the fictional plot).

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[This book was borrowed from and returned to my local public library.] ( )
1 vote riofriotex | Aug 30, 2015 |
Author: Harold Keith
Title: Rifles for Watie
Illustrator: Harold Keith
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: 1987
Pages: 352
Type: Historical Fiction
Summary: This book is about a young farm boy named Jeff Bussey that join the Union to fight in the war. He goes into the war at the age of 16, which is very young. He goes through hard times and sees a bunch of thing that not 16 year old should have to. He falls in love with a girl named Lucy, who's family is confederates. He then becomes a spy and pretends to be part of the Confederates. Finally he gets to go home at age 22.

This book was a very difficult book for me. I didn't really enjoy it but that is because I couldn't get into it. But it was a book that took place a long time ago, which might be the reason I didn't enjoy it. I think this would be a better book for older children. ( )
  emfro20 | Mar 24, 2014 |
Rifles for Watie is by Harold Keith. The publisher is Harper Trophy 1957. 332 pages. Historical fiction. Jeff is from Linn County, Kansas and he decided to go to war which lasts approx. 4 years. He leaves when he is 16, and on his journey he meets a lot of new people friends and enemies. He travels to several different states, fights in different battles, walks miles and miles and miles, goes days with out any food, and meets the love of his life. In the end he returns back home safely to his home and his family. Found in the contents there are 25 different chapters:
1. Linn County, Kansas, 1861
2. Bushwhackers
3. Fort Leavenworth
4. Captain Asa Clardy
5. Furlough
6. March
7. Battle of Wilson's Creek
8. Hard Lessons
9. Light Bread and Apple Butter
10. Foraging in the Cherokee Country
11. Lucy Washbourne
12. Battle of Prairie Grove
13. Expedition to Van Buren
14. The Cow Lot
15. Fate of the Brandts
16. The Name on the Watch
17. The Ride of Noah Babbitt
18. Sunday
19. Wrong Side of the River
20. The Jackmans
21. Boggy Depot
22. Pheasant Buff
23. The Redbud Tree
24. Flight
25. Linn County, Kansas, 1865
I thought the was okay. It was more exciting in some places than in others. In some chapters it was plain boring. I thought the author took a long time just to explain one small thing that happened. If someone asked me if they should read it I probably wouldn't recommend it.
  MaeghanS | Feb 17, 2014 |
Harold Keith
Rifles For Watie
Harper Collins
1957, 1987
Pages 332
Historical Fiction
Summary: Jefferson Bussy is a 16 year old boy that cant wait till he gets enlisted in the Civil War. The year is 1861 in Linn County Kansas. Jeff is one of five children. Jeff and his family is a strong supporter of the union. Jeff defends the union against colonial Watie, who is the leader of the Cherokee Indian Rebels.

Content theme of the book: Chapter two is called Bushwakers, the reason is because in this chapter Bushwakers try to come and kill Jeff's father because of his beliefs. Jeff fights the Bushwakers, they left. While his father was still staying strong. This is when Jeff decides to join the Kansas volunteers. Chapter 6 7 and 8 does a great job of showing some of the important content of this book and has meaning to the subject headings because these three chapters are called March ch 6. Battle of Wilsons Creek ch 7. and Hard Lessons which is ch 8. In chapter 6 Jeff started his march to Springfield. At Grand River Jeff and his company met with General Lyons. Jeff and Lyons group marched together. In chapter 7 everyone was saying how close it really was till the Battle of Wilsons Creek. A turning point in this chapter was when Jeff gets arrested because he didn't get permission to shoot his gun. He was taken to Captin Clardy and forced to be put on night sentry duty as punishment. Chapter 8 is called Hard Lessons because this chapter is where Jeff finally saw other men die and get hurt in the battle and was with Ford as he wa getting his leg amputated and on page 71 it says "Jefferson's heart is in turmoil, his stomach felt weak and throat dry'. As the book goes on Jeff falls in love with Lucy who every time Jeff is home he sees her. Jeff doesn't lie to go a day without seeing Lucy if he can keep from it. Lucy is not a confederate and that causes problems between Jeff and her. Now the war is over and Lucy has been waiting for him but at the en of the book we see that Lucy and Jeff doesn't get back together.

Response to the book: I liked the book. I kind of felt like I was reading s book for History class though. but I felt that there were many strengths about this book, for example the description of the battles and the pictorial descriptions of the people that got shot and how the people were laying, also the description of when Ford was getting his leg amputated and how well the dialogue of that was. I could picture in my mind all of that very well. What I didn't like was the end and closure of the book. There really wasn't a closure and the book ended like I didn't think it was going to I thought Lucy and Jeff were going to get back together and get married but that didn't happen. Overall a good book and a good read. ( )
  Mihalevich | Feb 13, 2014 |
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To Anne and Lane Livingston of Hutchinson, Kansas
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The mules strained forward strongly, hoofs stomping, harness jingling.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006447030X, Paperback)

Jeff Bussey walked briskly up the rutted wagon road toward Fort Leavenworth on his way to join the Union volunteers. It was 1861 in Linn County, Kansas, and Jeff was elated at the prospect of fighting for the North at last.

In the Indian country south of Kansas there was dread in the air; and the name, Stand Watie, was on every tongue. A hero to the rebel, a devil to the Union man, Stand Watie led the Cherokee Indian Na-tion fearlessly and successfully on savage raids behind the Union lines. Jeff came to know the Watie men only too well.

He was probably the only soldier in the West to see the Civil War from both sides and live to tell about it. Amid the roar of cannon and the swish of flying grape, Jeff learned what it meant to fight in battle. He learned how it felt never to have enough to eat, to forage for his food or starve. He saw the green fields of Kansas and Okla-homa laid waste by Watie's raiding parties, homes gutted, precious corn deliberately uprooted. He marched endlessly across parched, hot land, through mud and slash-ing rain, always hungry, always dirty and dog-tired.

And, Jeff, plain-spoken and honest, made friends and enemies. The friends were strong men like Noah Babbitt, the itinerant printer who once walked from Topeka to Galveston to see the magnolias in bloom; boys like Jimmy Lear, too young to carry a gun but old enough to give up his life at Cane Hill; ugly, big-eared Heifer, who made the best sourdough biscuits in the Choctaw country; and beautiful Lucy Washbourne, rebel to the marrow and proud of it. The enemies were men of an-other breed - hard-bitten Captain Clardy for one, a cruel officer with hatred for Jeff in his eyes and a dark secret on his soul.

This is a rich and sweeping novel-rich in its panorama of history; in its details so clear that the reader never doubts for a moment that he is there; in its dozens of different people, each one fully realized and wholly recognizable. It is a story of a lesser -- known part of the Civil War, the Western campaign, a part different in its issues and its problems, and fought with a different savagery. Inexorably it moves to a dramat-ic climax, evoking a brilliant picture of a war and the men of both sides who fought in it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:47 -0400)

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The story of Jeff Bussey, a farm boy living in 1861, who joins the Union army and goes on an important mission to discover how Stand Watie and his Confederate Cherokee Rebels are receiving repeating rifles from northern manufacturers.

» see all 4 descriptions

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