America’s Buried History: Landmines in the Civil War


By Kenneth R. Rutherford

This was a featured title for one of our Book Talks in 2022!
Despite the thousands of books published on the American Civil War, one aspect that has never received the in-depth attention it deserves is the use of landmines and their effect on the war and beyond. Modern mechanically fused high explosive and victim-activated landmines were used for the first time in the world’s history on a widespread basis in the American Civil War. Kenneth R. Rutherford rectifies this oversight with the first book devoted to a comprehensive analysis and history of the fascinating and important topic of landmines.


Hardcover: 216 Pages
Publisher: Savas Beatie

America’s Buried History traces the development of landmines from their first use before the Civil War, to the early use of naval mines, through the establishment of the Confederacy’s Army Torpedo Bureau, the world’s first institution devoted to developing, producing, and fielding mines in warfare. As Dr. Rutherford demonstrates, landmines transitioned from “tools of cowards” and “offenses against democracy and civilized warfare” to an accepted form of warfare.

Ken Rutherford, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Political Science. He co-founded the Landmine Survivors Network and escorted Princess Diana on her last humanitarian mission to visit landmine survivors in Bosnia-Herzegovina.Rutherford was a prominent leader in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. He served as Director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at JMU, Peace Corps Volunteer in Mauritania, UNHCR Emergency Refugee Coordinator in Senegal, humanitarian emergency relief officer in northern Kenya and Somalia, and as Fulbright Scholar in Jordan. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University, and B.A. and MBA degrees from the University of Colorado, where he lettered in football and inducted into its Hall for Distinguished alumni. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the congressionally mandated Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, which preserves and interprets the region’s significant Civil War battlefields and related historic sites.