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Civil War in the West

The Civil War from the Mississippi to the Mountains

Earl J. Hess

Publication Year: 2012

The Western theater of the Civil War, rich in agricultural resources and manpower and home to a large number of slaves, stretched 600 miles north to south and 450 miles east to west from the Appalachians to the Mississippi. If the South lost the West, there would be little hope of preserving the Confederacy. Earl J. Hess’s comprehensive study of how Federal forces conquered and held the West examines the geographical difficulties of conducting campaigns in a vast land, as well as the toll irregular warfare took on soldiers and civilians alike. Hess balances a thorough knowledge of the battle lines with a deep understanding of what was happening within the occupied territories.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: Littlefield History of the Civil War Era

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v


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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xv

Today, it is difficult to imagine how much Civil War America was defined by regional aspects of geography and culture. The United States was a continental nation loosely held together by a handful of key political...

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1 Spring and Summer 1861

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pp. 1-17

The secession crisis inspired confused reactions among people across the Northern states that lay west of the Appalachian Highlands. Promises of a peaceful separation of the seven Deep South states had lulled many...

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2 Fall 1861

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pp. 18-33

Preparations for war dragged on much longer than anyone on either side anticipated. Rather than a quick solution to secession, the fall of 1861 witnessed little more than the consolidation of opposing positions in Kentucky...

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3 Fort Henry to Corinth

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pp. 34-51

Grant proposed moving against the Confederate posture in the West as early as January 1862. He suggested shipping his men up the Tennessee River to strike at Fort Henry and use it as a base to operate toward...

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4 Occupation

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pp. 52-74

It became an item of received wisdom after the war to criticize Henry Halleck for not advancing deep into Mississippi following the fall of Corinth. His large army of some one hundred thousand veterans “could have gone to Mobile, or...

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5 The Gulf

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pp. 75-91

Federal authorities had enough resources to operate large numbers of troops supported by naval power along selected areas of the Confederate coast. In addition to incursions along the North Carolina and South...

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6 Kentucky and Corinth

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pp. 92-109

Don Carlos Buell had a big job to do in the summer of 1862. Pushing the Army of the Ohio eastward across territory recently abandoned by the Confederates and restoring his line of railroad communications...

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7 Winter Campaigns

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pp. 110-133

The hiatus in Union offensives along the Mississippi River came to an end by the late fall of 1862 as the new regiments Lincoln had called for in July became available, swelling the size of Federal field armies. The...

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8 The Vicksburg Campaign and Siege

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pp. 134-159

The Vicksburg campaign evolved more from circumstances than from a coherent plan. When Grant sent Sherman down the Mississippi, it was with the intention of executing a strong, fast strike that could capture...

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9 Occupation and Port Hudson

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pp. 160-177

For a good part of Grant’s forces the fall of Vicksburg was not the end of campaigning that summer. Sherman was ready to advance against Johnston’s concentration near Jackson as soon as the Gibraltar fell. Grant instructed

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10 From Tullahoma to Knoxville

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pp. 178-198

Officials in Washington had a difficult time juggling the needs of different military departments for more troops early in 1863. Following his bitter victory at Stones River, William Rosecrans cried loudly for more...

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11 Administering the Western Conquests

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pp. 199-212

Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs estimated that Federal forces in the West reclaimed 50,000 square miles of “revolted territory” in 1863. Added to the 150,000 square miles recovered in 1861–62, that...

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12 Atlanta

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pp. 213-232

After a great deal of work to prepare his logistical support, Sherman was ready to set out against Johnston in the first week of May 1864. He faced sixty thousand Confederates in the Army of Tennessee, led by a careful commander in a rugged mountainous territory...

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13 Behind the Lines

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pp. 233-246

While Sherman battled his way toward Atlanta, the rear areas of Union occupation in the West were alive with activity. Strategic raids by mounted Confederate forces swept across western Tennessee and western Kentucky, hitting...

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14 Fall Turning Point

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pp. 247-267

The Union war effort in the West reached a turning point in the fall of 1864. After spending a year and eight months advancing from Nashville to Atlanta, Federal troops now found themselves at the end of an increasingly problematic...

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15 The Last Campaigns

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pp. 268-285

After receiving authorization to march through North Carolina and South Carolina on January 2, 1865, General William T. Sherman prepared for a move that would be far more difficult and complex than his march across Georgia. He playfully informed his...

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16 End Game

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pp. 286-306

Ending a war often proves more difficult than starting or even winning it, and the Rebel government offered no guidance for how its military forces should deal with the many issues involved with bringing peace to...

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pp. 307-320

The Union won and the Confederacy lost the Civil War largely due to what each side did, or failed to do, in the West. This expansive region, embraced by the Mississippi River, the Ohio River, the Gulf Coast, and the Appalachian Highlands, comprised...


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pp. 321-370


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pp. 371-384


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pp. 385-392

E-ISBN-13: 9781469601892
E-ISBN-10: 1469601893
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807835425
Print-ISBN-10: 0807835420

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Littlefield History of the Civil War Era

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Subject Headings

  • Southwest, Old -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns.
  • Mississippi River Valley -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns.
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