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Landmines and the civil war, a precursor to modern weapons of destruction

by Hannah Lynn Robinson


According to some estimates, by the early 1990s landmines were responsible for more than 26,000 deaths each year worldwide. As this number continues to rise, Kenneth R. Rutherford, professor of political science at James Madison University, is unearthing the history of the weapon.

Despite all the research that has been published on the American Civil War, one aspect that has never received due attention is the widespread use of landmines. In his newest book, “America’s Buried History: Landmines in the Civil War,” Rutherford relies on a host of primary and secondary research to demonstrate how and why the mines were built, where they were deployed, the effects of their use, and the impacts on those who suffered from their deadly blasts.  

“After the Civil War, landmines became a major component of land warfare by most major militaries and the weapon’s use has resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties,” says Rutherford.

“Landmines are the number one cause of U.S. Military casualties in current operations, and remain a dangerous threat. The book lends credence to the argument that the American Civil War served as a precursor to modern warfare tactics and weapons.”

Rutherford who is known for his decades of work in the landmine discipline, and who himself lost his legs to a mine in Africa, is cofounder of the Landmine Survivors Network and a prominent leader in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

“America’s Buried History” is an important contribution to the literature on one of the most fundamental, contentious, and significant modern conventional weapons.

Media contact: Hannah Robinson,, 520-222-2808

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Published: Thursday, February 27, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, February 27, 2020

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