Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West

William L. Shea, Author, Earl J. Hess, With
William L. Shea, Author, Earl J. Hess, With University of North Carolina Press $39.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-8078-2042-1
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-8078-4669-8
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 432 pages - 978-1-4696-0306-3
Hardcover - 432 pages - 978-0-8078-6976-5
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With its exhaustive research and lively prose style, this military study is virtually a model work of its kind. Shea and Hess, who teach history at the University of Arkansas at Monticello and Lincoln Memorial University (Tenn.), respectively, convincingly argue that the 1862 campaign for Pea Ridge (Ark.) decisively changed the balance of power in the West, with the Union gaining effective control of Missouri. Samuel Curtis, commander of the Federal Army of the Southwest, understood the strategic requirements of his theater, according to the authors, and elicited the best performance from his troops, even though they were beset by internal tensions. The Southern commander, Earl van Dorn, the authors maintain, was a swashbuckler out of his depth--particularly in light of the administrative weaknesses of the trans-Mississippi Confederacy. Their detailed analysis of the climactic battle impressively conveys the difficulties of the improvised armies that groped for and grappled with each other in the Civil War West. Illustrations not seen by PW. BOMC and History Book Club selections. (Nov.)
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