The 1862 battle of Pea Ridge in northwestern Arkansas was one of the largest Civil War engagements fought on the western frontier, and it dramatically altered the balance of power in the Trans-Mississippi. This study of the battle is based on research in archives from Connecticut to California and includes a pioneering study of the terrain of the sprawling battlefield, as well as an examination of soldiers' personal experiences, the use of Native American troops, and the role of Pea Ridge in regional folklore. "A model campaign history that merits recognition as a major contribution to the literature on Civil War military operations."-- Journal of Military History "Shines welcome light on the war's largest battle west of the Mississippi."-- USA Today "With its exhaustive research and lively prose style, this military study is virtually a model work of its kind."-- Publishers Weekly "A thoroughly researched and well-told account of an important but often neglected Civil War encounter."
-- Kirkus Reviews "Offers the rich tactical detail, maps, and order of battle that military scholars love but retains a very readable style combined with liberal use of recollections of the troops and leaders involved."-- Library Journal "This book is assured of a place among the best of all studies that have been published on Civil War campaigns."-- American Historical Review "Destined to become a Civil War classic and a model for writing military history."-- Civil War History "A campaign study of a caliber that all should strive for and few will equal."-- Journal of American History "An excellent and detailed book in all accounts, scholarly and readable, with both clear writing and excellent analysis...Utterly essential ...for any serious student of the Civil War."-- Civil War News
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(235mm x 156mm x 34mm)
The University of North Carolina Press
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
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US Kirkus Review »
Two history professors (Shea: Univ. of Arkansas at Monticello; Hess: Lincoln Memorial Univ.) offer an absorbing analysis of an important early conflict in the Civil War. Though often regarded as having only peripheral strategic importance, the battle of Pea Ridge (Arkansas), the authors explain, led to Union control of Missouri and dominance of the entire trans-Mississippi region. In early 1962, a large Confederate army, assisted by a pro-Confederate governor and a secessionist state guard, posed a serious threat to Missouri's membership in the Union. As the pro-Confederate state-guard commander began an apparent retreat to obtain supplies and support from the regular Confederate army, Union forces under Samuel Curtis (who in turn was commanded by Henry W. Halleck) launched an aggressive offensive drive. Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed Earl Van Dorn, a dashing but untalented general, as overall Confederate commander - but though Van Dorn attempted to gain the initiative, what should have been a major Confederate threat to Missouri turned instead into a Federal invasion of Arkansas when Curtis's men - marching lightly and far from Union supply lines - attacked rather than fall back into Missouri. During the fighting at Pea Ridge (March 6-8, 1862) - which was really more a strategically unified series of separate battles than a single engagement - Curtis kept the Confederate forces separated and ultimately drove them from the field. And by the authors' account, Halleck - who is not often treated kindly by historians - emerges as the unlikely hero who conceived the vigorous Federal strategy. After the battle, Van Dorn transferred his army to the eastern side of the Mississippi, allowing the Union to contain Confederate forces there. Shea and Hess rightly contend that this early Union victory, won "in the springtime of northern hopes," secured Federal domination of the Mississippi region. A thoroughly researched and well-told account of an important but often neglected Civil War encounter. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - William L. Shea
WILLIAM L. SHEA is professor of history at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. He is coauthor of several books, including Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West (UNC Press) and Vicksburg Is the Key: The Struggle for the Mississippi River.