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Confederate Generals in the Trans-Mississippi, vol. 1

Edited by Lawrence L. Hewitt, with Arthur W. Bergeron Jr. and Thomas E. Schott

Publication Year: 2013

Until relatively recently, conventional wisdom held that the Trans-Mississippi Theater was a backwater of the American Civil War. Scholarship in recent decades has corrected this oversight, and a growing number of historians agree that the events west of the Mississippi River proved integral to the outcome of the war. Nevertheless, generals in the Trans-Mississippi have received little attention compared to their eastern counterparts, and many remain mere footnotes to Civil War history. This welcome volume features cutting-edge analyses of eight Southern generals in this most neglected theater—Thomas Hindman, Theophilus Holmes, Edmund Kirby Smith, Mosby Monroe Parsons, John Marmaduke, Thomas James Churchill, Thomas Green, and Joseph Orville Shelby—providing an enlightening new perspective on the Confederate high command. Although the Trans-Mississippi has long been considered a dumping ground for failed generals from other regions, the essays presented here demolish that myth, showing instead that, with a few notable exceptions, Confederate commanders west of the Mississippi were homegrown, not imported, and compared well with their more celebrated peers elsewhere. With its virtually nonexistent infrastructure, wildly unpredictable weather, and few opportunities for scavenging, the Trans-Mississippi proved a challenge for commanders on both sides of the conflict. As the contributors to this volume demonstrate, only the most creative minds could operate successfully in such an unforgiving environment. While some of these generals have been the subjects of larger studies, others, including Generals Holmes, Parsons, and Churchill, receive their first serious scholarly attention in these pages. Clearly demonstrating the independence of the Trans-Mississippi and the nuances of the military struggle there, while placing both the generals and the theater in the wider scope of the war, these eight essays offer valuable new insight into Confederate military leadership and the ever-vexing questions of how and why the South lost this most defining of American conflicts.

Published by: The University of Tennessee Press

Series: The Western Theater in the Civil War


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pp. 1-7


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pp. 8-11

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pp. xi-xii

Recent research has revealed that the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi was more complex, compelling, and significant than previously realized. To be sure, battles generally were smaller and casualties lower than elsewhere, but intensity is unrelated to scale. Courage, suffering, and devastation knew no boundaries. Soldiers and civilians made the same sacrifices and shared...

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pp. xiii-xix

The Confederate Trans-Mississippi Department has had the reputation of being a dumping ground for men who had failed to perform well east of the river. Albert Castel referred to the Trans-Mississippi as “the junkyard of the Confederate army” in which “were collected the military flotsam and jetsam of the South,” men “found wanting in the East and so sent where...

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pp. xxi-xxiii

Tom Schott, Art, and I became close friends while contemporaries during graduate school at Louisiana State University. Tom magnanimously stepped forward and offered to help fill the void left by Art’s untimely passing. I am certain that Art would agree with me that this volume and those that follow will benefit from Tom’s participation. Tom has filled a void in my life...

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“An Ultra and Stupid Conservatism Ruined Us”: General Thomas C. Hindman Jr. and the Defense of Arkansas

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pp. 1-24

He faced that problem in Arkansas in the early summer of 1862 and chose to ignore the rule of law to mobilize for the actual war that the Confederacy now faced. When he assumed command on May 31, 1862, Hindman issued the following circular, which summed up the sacrifices that he was going to demand from the people of Arkansas...

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Theophilus H. Holmes and Confederate Generalship

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pp. 25-56

Holmes commanded the Confederacy’s Trans-Mississippi Department from July 1862 to March 1863. Thereafter he oversaw the district containing Arkansas, Missouri, and the Indian Territory (modern Oklahoma) and served in other responsible assignments, including ones in the East. The Confederacy produced only a handful of successful department commanders...

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“To Carry Off the Glory”: Edmund Kirby Smith in 1864

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pp. 57-90

Kirby Smith spent much of 1863 reorganizing the department, meeting with Trans-Mississippi politicians and managing operations in the districts of Arkansas, West Louisiana, and Texas. Ultimately, he hoped to direct department resources toward a campaign to regain Arkansas and capture Missouri. Such an operation would not only secure for him the glory...

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Mosby Monroe Parsons: Missouri’s Forgotten Brigadier

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pp. 91-134

Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, on May 21, 1822, Mosby Monroe Parsons was the oldest of Gustavus and Patience Parsons’s nine children. In 1835, Gustavus Parsons moved his family to Missouri, eventually settling in the state capital, Jefferson City. As a youth, Monroe, as he was called by family and friends, worked in his father’s brickyard and briefly...

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A “Gallant and Prudent Commander”: Major General John S. Marmaduke

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pp. 135-166

Contemporary judgments of Marmaduke are few, but Brigadier General John Bullock Clark Jr., his fellow Missourian, Harvard alumnus, and companion of many fights in Arkansas and Missouri, offered an opinion in his final report on Major General Sterling Price’s Missouri Expedition, written several months after Marmaduke’s capture at...

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“Not Fortunate in War”: Major General Thomas James Churchill

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pp. 167-196

An opportunity for the latter presented itself first as the United States declared war against Mexico in 1846. Churchill enlisted in Colonel Humphrey Marshall’s 1st Kentucky Mounted Rifles, serving as a lieutenant. The regiment set out for San Antonio to join other American troops gathering for the invasion of Mexico but was forced to stop in eastern...

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Three Days in April: Tom Green’s Contributions at Carroll’s Mill, Mansfield, and Pleasant Hill during the Red River Campaign

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pp. 197-232

Tom Green was born June 8, 1814, in Virginia and raised in Tennessee. He had a fine academic education, attending Cumberland College in Princeton, Kentucky, a manual labor academy in Jackson, Tennessee, and the University of Nashville in Tennessee, though he never graduated from the latter. By the time he was twenty-one years old, a revolution had broken...

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Exile to Submission, Death to Dishonor: General Joseph Orville Shelby

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pp. 233-262

Shelby was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on December 12, 1830, into a prominent Bluegrass family. His grandfather was a cousin to Kentucky’s first governor, Isaac Shelby. When Joseph’s father died in 1835, he left Jo with a sizable trust. Eight years later, on July 6, 1843, Joseph’s widowed mother, Anna Boswell Shelby, married Benjamin Gratz, a wealthy lawyer and...


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pp. 263-268


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pp. 269-287


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pp. 289-290


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pp. 291-302

E-ISBN-13: 9781572339859
E-ISBN-10: 1572339853
Print-ISBN-13: 9781572338661
Print-ISBN-10: 1572338660

Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: The Western Theater in the Civil War
Series Editor Byline: Gary D. Joiner, Series Editor See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 867739719
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Confederate Generals in the Trans-Mississippi, vol. 1

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Subject Headings

  • Southwest, Old -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns.
  • Missouri -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns.
  • Generals -- Confederate States of America -- Biography.
  • Confederate States of America. Army. Trans-Mississippi Dept.
  • Command of troops -- History -- 19th century.
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