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Preface In 1902 while speaking to a National Encampment of the Grand Armyof the Republic in Washington,B.C., Grenville M.Dodge recalled the beginning of his Civil War experience forty years before. Dodge had risen to the rank of major general and had participated in many famous operations in Tennessee and Georgia, but he told his audience that he was proudest of what he had accomplished as a young colonel in Missouri and Arkansas in the second year of the war. He declared that during the Pea Ridge campaign the unheralded Army of the Southwest, Samuel R. Curtis commanding, did "more marching and endured more suffering than the great armies I was connected with east of the Mississippi." Dodge accurately expressed the sentiments of many aging Federal veterans of Pea Ridge, one of whom wrote a few years earlier that "for hard fighting, long and weary marches, as well as privations and sufferings endured, no army can show a better record, or one deserving greater credit, than the Army of the Southwest."1 This book is the first detailed study of the Pea Ridge campaign, an often overlooked but important Trans-Mississippioperation which had a significant impact on the course of events in the West. It is primarily the story of how the Federal Army of the Southwest triumphed over its nemesis, the Confederate Army ofthe West, in a desperate two-daybattle in northwesternArkansas in March 1862. In preparing this study,we were discouraged to note how frequently militaryoperations in the Trans-Mississippi are disparaged or even dismissed as irrelevant by historians who should knowbetter. It seems obvious to us that events in Missouriand Arkansas were as much a part of the Civil War as events in Virginia or Georgiaand are equally deserving of scholarly and popular attention. True,campaigns west of the great river had only a modest effect on the ultimate outcome of the struggle, but the terrible drama of battle and the devastation wrought by passing armies recognized no geographical barriers. Northerners and southerners fought as desperately in an Arkansas thicket as they did in a Pennsylvania wheatfield. In attempting to produce a comprehensive account of the Pea Ridgecampaign we foraged for unpublished manuscript material in archives from Connecticut to Californiaand from Michiganto Louisiana. Wealso reconnoitered dozens of big-city and small-town newspapers in search of soldiers' letters xii 1 1 1 Preface published as a public service for the information they contained, a common practice during the CivilWar. Weuncovered an enormous amount of unpublished and published (but long forgotten)material on the campaign, far more than we expected to find or could possibly use. We came away from this project convinced that the Civil Warin the West is fertile ground for pioneering historians. A one-volume study of a large campaign or battle rarely takes note of tactics below the brigade level, but because Pea Ridge was a medium-sized engagement, we discuss tactics down to the company and battery level and examine leadership, logistics, medical care, ethnic and personal conflicts, and other aspects of Civil Waroperations often overlooked.And because the story of a campaign does not necessarily end when the last shot has been fired or the last mile has been marched, we also explore the cultural legacy of Pea Ridge and the fate ofthe battlefield itself, nowlargely preserved within the boundaries of Pea Ridge National Military Park. Wehope that the result will come close to being a complete study of a single CivilWar campaign. At an early stage of this project we realized that we would have to undertake a meticulous examination of the battlefield.It is no exaggeration to say that without this inspection our study ofthe campaign, and especially of the battle, would have been only half done. Unlike Shiloh, Vicksburg,Chickamauga , and Gettysburg, Pea Ridge National Military Park is not graced (or cursed) with a forest of memorials and markers erected in the postwar decades. The National Park Service has installed only minimal interpretive aids, and these are limited to a handful of sites along the tour road and hiking trails. Fortunately, the sprawling park includes essentially all the ground where maneuvering and fighting took place, and the terrain and vegetation are much as they were in 1862. Intensive exploration of the battlefield over several years proved invaluable;the land often yielded information and insights not found in the written record. Paint traces of forgotten fences and lanes were vital clues to the location ofunits, the rationale for...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469603063
Related ISBN
9780807820421
MARC Record
OCLC
731680394
Pages
432
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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