Confederate Generals in the Trans-Mississippi, Vol. 2

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In contrast to Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, the armies and events of the Civil War’s Trans-Mississippi Theater have received scant historical attention, to the detriment of our understanding not only of individuals and events west of the Mississippi River, but also to the east of it. In Confederate Generals in the Trans-Mississippi, Volume 2, noted Civil War historians offer fresh scholarship on eight generals who made names for themselves in the region, providing intriguing insight into important wartime issues in the Trans-Mississippi and beyond.

Contrary to popular belief, the Trans-Mississippi did not serve as a dumping ground for generals who had failed in Virginia. Instead, the majority of generals who served in the region were homegrown and faced challenges unknown to their counterparts in the East—expansive territory, few men, and limited transportation for the meager supplies available. Superior Union numbers in the West, however, did not guarantee Union victory. As these essays show, southern generals often beat themselves because of personal failings or an inability to work together. Sterling Price and Ben McCulloch refused to cooperate, Henry Sibley combined alcoholism with cowardice, and the able French-born Prince de Polignac faced language barriers. The war ended before Joseph Brent, a visionary regarding tank warfare, could make his name as a brigadier, and “Prince John” Magruder’s achievements in Texas remain overshadowed by his earlier career in Virginia. The Cajun Alfred Mouton, a superior leader, died on a battlefield in his native Louisiana, while Mosby Parsons survived the war only to be murdered by Mexican cavalry. While some of these generals breathed life into the Confederacy, others hastened its downfall.

By chronicling the lives and careers of these eight generals, this welcome volume integrates the Trans-Mississippi more fully with the Western Theater and illuminates critical issues vital to understanding the South’s ultimate defeat.

Lawrence Lee Hewitt is professor of history emeritus at Southeastern Louisiana University. He is the author of Port Hudson: Confederate Bastion on the Mississippi and coeditor of six anthologies dealing with America’s Civil War.

Thomas E. Schott worked as a historian for the Department of Defense. He is the author of Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography, winner of the Jefferson Davis Award, and coeditor with Lawrence Hewitt of Lee and His Generals: Essays in Honor of T. Harry Williams.

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