The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi

The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi

The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi

The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi

Synopsis

This volume of the Littlefield series is devoted to the land and river campaigns that took place in the Western theater of operations--from the Mississippi River eastward to the Appalachian Highlands.

Excerpt

Today, it is difficult to imagine how much Civil War America was defined by regional aspects of geography and culture. the United States was a continental nation loosely held together by a handful of key political concepts, a common language, and a vision of destiny. the secession of eleven Southern states indicates how loosely those ties held the multiregional nation together. While the ties that bound the West and the East were stronger because of the absence of slavery, even the inhabitants of West and East were keenly aware that the differences between those two Northern sections were significant.

Westerners, especially, realized that their conduct of the war against the Confederacy was unlike that of their national partners in the East. Geography, more than any other factor, made the Civil War in the West unique. the Western states of the Confederacy embraced an expansive and varied territory, with a large population and many difficult topographical features to bog down Union offensives. Merely supplying a Federal column as it tried to penetrate the deep territory of the Western Confederacy was a huge problem. Dealing with guerrilla attacks on extended transportation lines, with recalcitrant civilian populations and thousands of refugee slaves, accentuated the difficulties of Federal commanders in the West.

Geography further divided the West into several subregions. the Upper South consisted of Kentucky and Tennessee, while the Deep South comprised Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. the Appalachian Highlands cut across parts of the Upper South and the Deep South to embrace the mountainous areas of Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. the Gulf region stretched across the coastal lowlands of southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. But in many ways the most important subregion was the Mississippi River, which connected the western portions of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi in a waterborne network of commerce.

The Federals won the war in the West despite the enormous difficulties posed by geography and the fierce opposition of Confeder-

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