Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, and Prairie Grove: A Battlefield Guide, with a Section on Wire Road

Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, and Prairie Grove: A Battlefield Guide, with a Section on Wire Road

Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, and Prairie Grove: A Battlefield Guide, with a Section on Wire Road

Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, and Prairie Grove: A Battlefield Guide, with a Section on Wire Road

Synopsis

Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, and Prairie Grove were three of the most important battles fought west of the Mississippi River during the Civil War. They influenced the course of the first half of the war in that region by shaping Union military efforts while significantly contributing to Confederate defeat. Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, and Prairie Grove, the first book to provide a detailed guide to these battlefields, takes the visitor step-by-step through the major sites of each engagement. With numerous maps and illustrations that enhance the authors' descriptions of what happened at each stop, the book also includes analytical accounts explaining tactical problems associated with each battle as well as vignettes evoking for readers the personal experience of those who fought there. An indispensable companion for the battlefield visitor, this guide offers not only touring information and driving tours of sites associated with the campaigns that led to the battles, but also a brief history of each battle and an overview of the larger strategy and tactics of the military action in which these battles figured.

Excerpt

The battles of Wilson’s Creek, Pea Ridge, and Prairie Grove were three of the most significant engagements of the Civil War west of the Mississippi River. They influenced the course of the first half of the war in that region and helped shape Union military efforts to control the Trans-Mississippi while significantly contributing to Confederate defeat. It was essential that the Federals dominate Missouri and northern Arkansas in order to support their major effort to control the Mississippi Valley. While the Yankees never completely defeated Rebel forces in Missouri and Arkansas, they were able to deny the Confederates an opportunity to dominate this vital region and use its resources for the Southern war effort. the campaigns that led to Wilson’s Creek and Pea Ridge progressively drove Confederate forces out of Missouri during the first year of the war, and the Prairie Grove campaign kept them in central Arkansas during the middle part of the conflict. Although these campaigns garnered less attention in the public mind than more-famous battles in the East, they were absolutely vital in maintaining the relentless Union pressure in the western theater that resulted in spectacular victories such as Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s capture of Vicksburg in July 1863.

Two of the three battlefields covered by this book are protected by the U.S. National Park Service. Pea Ridge National Military Park encompasses nearly all the land that saw any action, while Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield encloses about 70 percent of the contested ground. This is far more than is typical for the larger engagements east of the Mississippi River. While the same has not been true of the Prairie Grove battlefield, dedicated park personnel and local supporters are protecting more acres every year. As a result, Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park will not only preserve more historic ground over time but also present a more complete vision of the battle to visitors.

There are no major tour guides in print for any of the three battlefields except for those published in Blue and Gray, a magazine providing self-guided tours for a variety of Civil War sites. This book is an effort to provide much more than is possible in a magazine article. It will offer the reader a complete guide to the ground, information to understand the larger strategic and grand tactical background of the military action, and vignettes to appreciate the personal experience of participants. the format is generally that provided by the other books in this successful series, This Hallowed Ground:

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