The Western Theater in the Civil War

Gary D. Joiner, Series Editor

Published by: The University of Tennessee Press

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The Western Theater in the Civil War

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Confederate Generals in the Trans-Mississippi

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

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.

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Confederate Generals in the Trans-Mississippi, Volume 2

Essays on America’s Civil War

Edited by Lawrence Lee Hewitt and Thomas E. Schott

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Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, volume 3

Essays on America's Civil War

Edited by Lawrence Lee Hewitt and Arthur W. Bergeron; With a Foreword by Steven E. Woodworth

The American Civil War was won and lost on its western battlefields, but accounts of triumphant Union generals such as Grant and Sherman leave half of the story untold. In the third volume of Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, editors Lawrence Hewitt and Arthur Bergeron bring together ten more never-before-published essays filled with new, penetrating insights into the key question of why the Rebel high command in the West could not match the performance of Robert E. Lee in the East. Showcasing the work of such gifted historians as Wiley Sword, Timothy B. Smith, Rory T. Cornish, and M. Jane Johansson, this book is a compelling addition to an ongoing, collective portrait of generals who occasionally displayed brilliance but were more often handicapped by both geography and their own shortcomings. While the vast, varied terrain of the Western Theater slowed communications and troop transfers and led to the creation of too many military departments that hampered cooperation among commands, even more damaging were the personal qualities of many of the generals. All too frequently, incompetence, egotism, and insubordination were the rule rather than the exception. Some of these men were undone by alcoholism and womanizing, others by politics and nepotism. A few outlived their usefulness; others were killed before they could demonstrate their potential. Together, they destroyed what chance the Confederacy had of winning its independence. Whether adding fresh fuel to the debate over the respective roles of Albert Sidney Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard at Shiloh or bringing to light such lesser known figures as Joseph Finegan and Hiram Bronson Granbury, this volume, like the ones preceding it, is an exemplary contribution to Civil War scholarship.

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