Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Atlas of the Civil War, Month by Month: Major Battles and Troop Movements

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Atlas of the Civil War, Month by Month: Major Battles and Troop Movements

Article excerpt

Atlas of the Civil War, Month by Month: Major Battles and Troop Movements. By Mark Swanson. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004. Pp. viii, 141. Guide to use, maps, appendix, selected bibliography, index. $39.95.)

The steady stream of books and articles on the Civil War continues unabated, but it sometimes seems as if there is little that is new. This book may be an exception. The dust jacket advertises it to be "the first Civil War atlas to depict multiple aspects of the war's action, month by month, from April 1861 through May-June 1865." Actually it does more than that. In addition to the fifty maps that cover each month of the war, there are six maps that detail the political situation in the months leading to the outbreak of the conflict and another thirteen that focus exclusively on the far western theater.

Unlike other atlases that provide detailed diagrams of individual campaigns and battles, this volume delineates the month-by-month movements of the opposing armies and the ever-changing position of the front lines. The book's large size (the pages measure 10" χ 14") makes it possible to accomplish this task without reducing the size to a barely legible scale. The left-hand page of each two-page set provides a brief description of the major events of the month, broken down by states or regions, while the righthand page contains the corresponding map.

Students of the war in Arkansas and the Trans-Mississippi will be pleased to find that this often overlooked region is not slighted here. Both the text and the maps deal with the major Arkansas battles, such as Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove, as well as lesser known engagements, such as the July 1862 fight at the Cache River and Sterling Price's last great raid into Missouri in the autumn of 1864. Those historians who contend that the western theater was the decisive area of operations will find compelling visual evidence to support that view. …

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