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Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West (Civil War America) Hardcover – November 15, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0807820421 ISBN-10: 0807820423 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Civil War America
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (November 15, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807820423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807820421
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #976,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The battle of Pea Ridge, fought in northwestern Arkansas in March 1862, was probably the most important trans-Mississippi battle of the Civil War. It was unusual in the use of Indian troops and in the Confederates' numerical superiority, better supplies, and inferior leadership. The battle ended any serious Confederate threat to Missouri and opened the Union's path into Arkansas. The book 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. Shea (history, Univ. of Arkansas) and Hess (history, Lincoln Memorial Univ.) do, however, suffer from a touch of logorrhea; the narrative rumbles along for nearly 100 pages after the battle ends. Nonetheless, this is an important book for academic libraries and for public libraries in the region. BOMC and History Book Club selections.
- Fritz Buckallew, Univ. of Central Oklahoma Lib., Edmond
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I highly recommend this book to all Civil War buffs.
Michael K. Noirot
As in all battles, without these maps, the text would have been very hard to follow.
Matt Hering
The narrative is well researched, and very well written.
A. Locher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Phillips on January 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
Almost from the end of the war, most of the books and articles about various battles and leaders of the civil war tended to focus on Virginia. The western theater got nowhere near the attention it deserved and the Trans-Mississippi has been almost completely ignored. Fortunately, William Shea and Earl Hess have decided to end all of that and have given us a wonderful book about the campaigns that cumulated in the Battle of Pea Ridge. Remarkable characters with which many readers will not be familiar like Van Dorn, Curtis, Price and Pike will begin to come into focus and will not be easily forgotten.
The authors do an excellent job also of telling the stories of the common soldiers. They had to have dug through mountains of newspapers and journals to come up with all of this information but the results are well worth their efforts. Quote after quote tells the reader of the miserable conditions, the incessant marching, the hunger, and the fear. A large number of maps and portraits are a great help as the reader tries to picture what is going on. Many authors of this kind of detailed study of a battle end up giving the reader headaches with minute details about troop movements, but Shea and Hess manage to get the information across without becoming dull at all.
The portrait painted of this campaign is quite clear. Untimely deaths of commanders on the battlefield played a large part in the Confederate defeat, but mostly it was their inept General. With the exception of General Sigel, the Union commanders seem to have been an excellent group of officers who led brave men and led them well. Often overlooked is the bravery and fortitude of the common soldiers of both sides. These authors do not make that mistake.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Socialcomment on June 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
Pea Ridge is a rewarding book for both newcomers to Civil War reading, and Buffs, as well as researchers with a view toward writing about the last cavaliers' war on this continent.

I say that from the perspective of one who was born long ago, knew some of the vets of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic, the Civil War equivalent of the American Legion) who had experienced such "close contact" battles, and at age ten listened to their voices describe it all, which I can still hear. Some of them, older at that time than I am now, recalled war recollections they heard as boys, told by Revolutionary War vets who could remember what Washington looked and sounded like. So it all wasn't that long ago. When I was a boy we were closer to the American Revolution than the nuclear age. Outhouses and kerosene lamps were accepted as normal, even in parts of small towns, and everyone owned and shot guns for hunting and the simple sport of shooting well.

Why is this book different? It's authors are the new breed who are now using the rich resources of regimental and company histories, and personal memoirs and letters by men who lived what they wrote about. Rather than hearing grandiose broad terms such as "Custer swept around the right flank . . . " we hear of how individuals and small organizations traded volleys at close range in heavy timber and brush, visibility so short that they ran into each others by accident and had to shoot at flashes of guns since they couldn't see men in the heavy smoke from black powder.

I was raised on Civil War fare like Charles Carlton Coffin's account of the Seven Days around Richmond, written so intimately and graphically because he himself, although a noncombatant, had seen it through the smoke.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Chris Carter on June 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Pea Ridge is a well crafted book which deals with an obscure but extremely important battle early in the Civil War. The authors present their story in a very engaging and readable style which gives a real sense of being on the frigid and tangled battlefield in Northwestern Arkansas. The two armies and their commanders are described in wonderful detail, and the action flows right from the start. After finishing the book, I was struck by just what Curtis and the Army of the Southwest had accomplished, and by how many precedents he had set for future operations. Nevertheless, his accomplishments have been largely ignored. This book helps rescue him from obscurity, and is without a doubt the definitive study of this battle. Pea Ridge is a fantastic book on the Trans-Mississippi theater of the war, and when read along with Cozzen's book on Iuka and Corinth, provides a very complete picture of the formation of Van Dorn's and Price's armies and their fate. I highly recommend this book as an essential volume on the Civil War in the West.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By lordhoot on February 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
I brought this book at Pea Ridge National Battlefield and read while I was at the park and immediately afterward. I found the book to be superbly written, insightful and well researched. Its also a pretty entertaining book. While packed with information about the battle, the book never weighted you down and the authors keep the pace going until the very end. I enjoyed reading the book while sitting at the actual location which gave me some very insightful understanding of how the battle went. This book will probably stand the test of time as a standard book for this battle for the current generation and maybe beyond.
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