Until relatively recently, conventional wisdom held that the Trans-Mississippi Theater was abackwater 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 provedintegral to the outcome of the war. Nevertheless, generals in the Trans-Mississippi have receivedlittle attention compared to their eastern counterparts, and many remain mere footnotes to CivilWar history. This welcome volume features cutting-edge analyses of eight Southern generalsin this most neglected theater Thomas Hindman, Theophilus Holmes, Edmund Kirby Smith, Mosby Monroe Parsons, John Marmaduke, Thomas James Churchill, Thomas Green, and JosephOrville Shelby providing an enlightening new perspective on the Confederate high command.
Although the Trans-Mississippi has long been considered a dumping ground for failedgenerals from other regions, the essays presented here demolish that myth, showing instead that, with a few notable exceptions, Confederate commanders west of the Mississippi werehomegrown, not imported, and compared well with their more celebrated peers elsewhere. Withits virtually nonexistent infrastructure, wildly unpredictable weather, and few opportunities forscavenging, the Trans-Mississippi proved a challenge for commanders on both sides of theconflict. As the contributors to this volume demonstrate, only the most creative minds couldoperate successfully in such an unforgiving environment.
While some of these generals have been the subjects of larger studies, others, includingGenerals Holmes, Parsons, and Churchill, receive their first serious scholarly attention in thesepages. Clearly demonstrating the independence of the Trans-Mississippi and the nuances of themilitary struggle there, while placing both the generals and the theater in the wider scope of thewar, these eight essays offer valuable new insight into Confederate military leadership and theever-vexing questions of how and why the South lost this most defining of American conflicts.