Bushwhackers were men who performed the art of guerrilla warfare in the Civil War. This style of fighting was in stark contrast to the normal way armies fought each other. For centuries armies would blast horns and march in strict rank and file order, to their deaths. It was what some historians called glorious suicide by the leaders of the armies.
This new tactic would prove to be extremely successful for the Rebels. Especially when the North began invading the South and winning more and more battles.
They were not regulars in the Confederate army. The Rebels that were fighting in the fields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga were not the same as the men popping off shots from sniper positions three hundred yards away.
These men got their names by fighting from the bush. They did not wish to engage the enemy directly, which normally consisted of a far more superior force; so they desired a more strike and flee attitude.
The amount of destruction and the loss of life that fell at the hands of these men were immensely valuable for the Southern war effort. The leadership of both sides held this tactic in relatively low regards, as they did not understand the method and believed battles should be fought in the more traditional ways.
The commanders on both sides did not thoroughly understand these men of the bush nor did they rightly know how to deal with them.
On the one hand the Union army knew all too well what the bushwackers were capable of. They were disrupting troop movements and causing the Union to increase their scouting patrols to sniff out potential hot spots of bushwackers. The list went on and on relating to the trouble the bushwackers caused to the Union army and its leaders.
The Southern commanders, although mostly appreciative of the harassment given to the Union troops, were not as impressed as one would think they would have been.