Former newspaperman pens story of ‘Abolitionist Warrior’ Montgomery

Bob Conner and his new book. (photos provided)

Bob Conner and his new book. (photos provided)

Former journalist Robert C. Conner’s latest book, titled “James Montgomery: Abolitionist Warrior,” dives into the life of the controversial historical figure.

Montgomery was a leader of the free-state movement in pre-Civil War Kansas and Missouri, associated with its direct-action military wing. He then joined the Union Army and fought through most of the war.

According to the book’s description, Montgomery was a close associate and ally of other abolitionists, including John Brown, Harriet Tubman and colonels Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Robert G. Shaw, and led his African-American regiment along with Tubman and other civilians in the 1863 Combahee River Raid, which freed almost 800 slaves from South Carolina plantations.

Montgomery then commanded a brigade in the siege of Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina. He also played a significant role in defeating Confederate Gen. Sterling Price’s great raid, especially at the Battle of Westport.

The book was published in April by Casemate, which is also reissuing in paperback Conner’s 2013 biography, “General Gordon Granger: The Savior of Chickamauga and the Man Behind ‘Juneteenth.’ ”

Conner won two first-place writing awards from the New York Associated Press Association for newspapers with circulation between 50,000 and 200,000, and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of New York University. He and his wife Barbara have three grown children and live in upstate New York.

Conner volunteers at Grant Cottage and the Saratoga County History Center at Brookside Museum, and is an active Rotarian.

For more on “James Montgomery: Abolitionist Warrior,” visit

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