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Rifles for Watie

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  9,087 ratings  ·  448 reviews
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 Un
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 25th 1987 by HarperTeen (first published 1957)
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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,087 ratings  ·  448 reviews

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Jun 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Q. Why didn’t I read this in junior high?
Q. Why didn’t my teachers make it mandatory?
Q. Why did I ever read anything out of a text book about the civil war?

Rifles for Watie taught me more about the civil war than any junior high American History book I ever endured. If I were teaching Junior High history this would be MANDATORY. It was exciting and not biased. The author did a remarkable job of showing the good and bad sides of both the Union and Confederate Armies. The protagonist Jeff Bussey w
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: historical novel fans/Civil War history buffs
Recommended to Ed by: Reread
I recalled once reading Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith when I was a kid probably over my summer vacation. I believed I had enjoyed the experience, so I decided to have another go at it now and hope the historical novel written for teens still holds up. I am happy to report Rifles for Watie still turns my crank. The author Keith had a wonderful knack for turning descriptive phrases of the landscape, battle scenes, and soldiers' camp life. His protagonist of Jeff Bussey from Linn County, Kansas, ...more
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Valerie by: Cara
There are few reasons why I wanted to read this book. One, it was highly recommended to me by my sister. Two, is historical fiction (about the civil war). And three, it is based in the mid-west which is mostly ignored during the civil war, except when they mention "Bloody Kansas" for one paragraph in the textbooks. It was a bit long and it took me a while to read but it was well worth it.

Hoping to prove himself and defend his home Jeff leaves to enlist as a soldier in the Union Army. He has thi
Kellyn Roth
Okay, that was cool. :) Might review it further later.
Luisa Knight

Children's Bad Words
Mild Obscenities - 50 Incidents: corn, by jack, shut up, jeepers, darn, darned, dad-gummed, cripes, shucks, stupid, shoot, dang, gosh, gallinippers, heck, h*ll (once)
Name Calling - 21 Incidents: chronic croakers, Free State scum, n*ggers (three times), dom (dumb), big lout, fool, Yankee swine, Yankee liar, foot-sloggers, Buttermilk Rangers, crazy dumb, cowardly swine, stupid, bugger, gray devils, bl**dy-minded shikepokes
Scatological Terms - 7 Incidents: bl**dy (as
Benji Martin
Apr 28, 2015 rated it liked it
First, let me say that I get what is good about this book. It's unique. There aren't many decent children's books out there that follow a young soldier around through the entire Civil War, and the ones that do exist are all set in the eastern part of the U.S. I didn't know much about what was going on in the west during the Civil War before I read this book. Most of the scholarship or fiction I've been exposed to has all been focused on the other part of the country.

For it's length, it's a very
Aug 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: YA Civil War fiction
A sentimental 4 stars: Rifles for Watie was one of my favorite books when I was young; I don't know how many times I checked it out of the library.

I was pleasantly reminded of it (and another sentimental favorite, The Horse Soldiers) while reading David Donald's Lincoln. I can still remember specific scenes from the book like Jeff's first battle, loading a rifle, the night he spends in a rebel's house, using worthless Confederate dollars to cut out a piece of bread.

Both books have joined the lis
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Exceptional Civil War story focused on the West and with authentic empathy for a variety of perspectives of the war. Highly recommended for young readers especially.

The audiobook is breathtakingly well done.
Phil Jensen
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One child out of a hundred will love this book above all others. The other 99 won't make it through the first chapter. Although I already knew an awful lot about the Civil War, I learned a little from this book. More importantly, the way the main character was written gave me a new perspective on what I already knew. I was also glad that Keith didn't wimp out on the action, and described it with realism. I think he had me after first mention of lice.

This is very well written. In fact, it's proba
Book synopsis:

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 Uni
Michael Fitzgerald
Long but worthwhile, this story has many twists and turns, and although readers certainly know how the war will play out on the large scale, there is a good deal of suspense regarding individual characters. The details of place, characterizations, dialogue, etc. are first rate, making this stand out from more generic juvenile historical fiction set during the Civil War.

The author manages to deliver a good deal of history and through interesting juxtapositions of the protagonist is able to conve
Dec 08, 2018 marked it as xx-dnf-skim-reference
Anyway, Keith's acceptance speech isn't that interesting. He speaks of his background as sports publicity director for U. of OK as not being helpful, but as writing workshops teaching him the strategies of putting together a successful story.

There and in the introduction in the book itself he speaks of all the interviews he did with the aged veterans of the war. So, yes, the details of how the boys dealt with being soldiers, etc., do ring true.

In the introduction he admits that the nove
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Read this years ago and recall liking it.
Newbery Winner 1958

This is an exceptionally well written novel. It is the story of a 16-year-old farmer's boy who joins the Union Army after his family survives a brush with Missourian Bushwackers. In preparing for this novel Harold Keith had done an enormous amount of research and even interviewed veterans of the Civil War in the 1940s. In an effortless style he weaves into the narrative a tremendous amount of historical detail. The story is also very realistic in its depictions of the hardship
Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob)
Hooray! I'm finally done with this book!

Anyhow, it actually did move along nicely and turn into an interesting book about midway through. I'm glad I put it down months ago and picked it up again a few days ago when I was ready to finally read another civil war era book. It's got some issues in it, like the N word. It's not as prejudiced against Native Americans as one would assume from the cover. In fact, it points out that many Cherokees owned large plantations and homes and were actually assi
Erin O'Connor {If The Review Fits}
If you are a fanatic about Civil War I recommend this book. If you are guy I recommend this book. It was so well written and really hits on some great parts in our history.
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Newbery books are a special breed, and this oldie-but-goodie rings true. Beautiful writing that nonetheless is accessible and down to earth enough for junior high readers carries an exciting story of the Civil War seen through the eyes of a 16 year old Kansas boy. Jeff Bussey is an appealing protagonist, a courageous, sensible teenage boy eager to join the Union efforts and gain battle experience. He has no idea what unusual paths his life will take over the next four years. This makes quite a t ...more
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this much more than I would have expected to. I'm not a history buff and don't have much interest in American history, but once I got all the terminology straight I was hooked. Keith's portrayal of war and death are dark and meaningful without being "too much" for older children. Jeff is a great character and his coming-of-age progression is complex and well done. I loved his integrity and his understanding and sympathy for both sides by the end of the novel. And the last 50 or so pages ...more
Ben Murphy
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars, but a little closer to 4.49 than 4.51. Jeff is the absolute perfect lead character. The type of small time hero I personally always want to be. Clardy is a genius villain. Book gets 100x better as soon as Lucy Washbourne is introduced. Very good book.
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a really good story, very entertaining, and I will not lie, I enjoyed most of it. But it was very negatively biased against the confederates. Also, there was an over-dramatic, over-descriptive and unnecessary romance.
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf
Good Civil War novel! I admit I didn't care for it at first but the story went on and it got better.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best historical fiction books ever
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it
It was a decent book but I felt it was more worded for beginner readers even though it was pretty long. I enjoyed the fact that it was easy to read and understand the plot of the book. This book is about Jeff Bussey's encounters in the union army during the civil war and how he learns that war isn't all fun and games. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the civil war or that time period
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rifles for Watie starts out with an author’s note that explains the historical research and interviews that Harold Keith conducted in order to make the book as realistic as possible. And that research shows in every area of this book, from the attitudes of the various people to the details of battles to the geographical locations.

It’s fascinating to read a book about the Civil War that is remarkably respectful to both sides (mostly the Confederate side). Nowadays, all you tend to get is “Confede
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: newbery
Five stars for this Civil War historical fiction winner set in Kansas and Missouri, both states part of the western front of the war. Jefferson Davis Bussey, a Union private (despite his name), enters the war after Missouri Bushwackers torment his family in his beloved Kansas. Jeff’s story is believable, from his ignorance of military vocabulary when he joins the Federals to his falling in love with Lucy Washburne, a Rebel Cherokee young lady, as well as from countless details in between. This r ...more
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Rifles for Watie is a book about a boy named Jefferson Davis Bussey. Jeff goes off to war and fights for the Union after his family is attacked by bushwackers. He works his way up rankings from an infantry to calvary. Soon he meets a lovely rebel girl known as Lucy Washborne. Of course, Lucy is not interested in him because he a Union soldier. Eventually, Jeff is made a scout. He finds out about the reinforcements coming to the Confederates. He also knew that the Washbournes were missing a famil ...more
This was quite a bit better than I thought it would be. I wasn't enthusiastic about beginning it, but do want to read all or most of the Newberrys.

One reason that I enjoyed this book so much is that most of the action takes place at or near where I grew up. And to think that the fantastic schools never mentioned this in 12 years of schooling. Unbelievable. This is a whole new aspect of the Civil War that I was completely unaware of. When I think of the field trips, the real, hands-on "history ha
This is a terrific book to introduce older children to the Civil War, and it certainly deserves the Newbery Award. I particularly liked how the characters thought and acted appropriately for their time period. There are few things more disappointing in historical fiction to find that the author has chosen to endow the characters with modern progressive thinking, which not only is out of character, but confuses young readers. My one quibble with the book, though, is that the main plot point sugge ...more
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 12 and up
This is a different take on a civil war novel. Longer than most novels awarded the John Newberry Medal, it recounts the tale of a young Union soldier named Jefferson Bussey. Jeff is a good character. He goes through many different situations during the war, different from most civil war books I have read.
This isn't a long description of all the different battles in the war. It does mention several battles, but is based more on the characters and their stories.
The writing style wasn't my favorit
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
There's a lot to like about this Civil War novel. The young protagonist, Jeff Bussey, is a likeable character, and there's a good portrayal of his experiences as a young Union recruit from Kansas, as he goes from impatience to get a taste of war to eventual disillusionment with the destruction caused by both sides; knowing fear and hardship, forming friendships with good people on the other side of the conflict, and falling in love. The angle of the Cherokee Nation's participation in the war was ...more
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Around the Year i...: Rifles for Watie, Harold Keith 1 5 Dec 30, 2018 04:05PM  
Children's Books: The Medal Winner from 1958 - Rifles for Watie - D&A December 2018 18 30 Dec 23, 2018 04:48AM  
2017 Reading Chal...: Rifles for Watie 1 12 Jun 16, 2015 01:46PM  
Rifles for Watie 3 17 Mar 21, 2014 10:07PM  
General 7 27 Oct 08, 2012 06:38AM  
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Harold Keith lived his entire life in Oklahoma, a state that he greatly loved and which served as the setting for many of his books.
Perhaps his best known story, the historical novel "Rifles for Watie", was first released in 1957. It went on to win the 1958 John Newbery Medal and the 1964 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award.
In 1998, Harold Keith died of congestive heart failure, in Norman, Oklahoma.