Saturday, March 4, 2017

Five books on the campaign and battle of Pea Ridge

In recognition of the battle's impending 155th anniversary:

1. Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West by William L. Shea and Earl J. Hess (1992).
The 1990s comprised a golden decade for authors, publishers, and readers. Entire aisles at mega bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders were crammed with Civil War titles of all kinds (the contrast to B&N today is rather disheartening given that the actual richness of the literature is not at all diminished). One of the best titles released during this era was Shea and Hess's Pea Ridge, a treatment of the campaign that's unrivaled in every way to this day and perhaps may never be superseded.
2. The Battle of Pea Ridge: The Civil War Fight for the Ozarks by James R. Knight (2012).
If detailed, full-length battle studies aren't your thing, then Knight's popular overview (which, if I recall correctly from the notes, heavily references Shea & Hess) will more than suffice.
3. Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, and Prairie Grove: A Battlefield Guide, with a Section on Wire Road by Hess, Hatcher, Piston, and Shea (2006).
Part of Nebraska's This Hallowed Ground series, this volume is the best guide for touring the Pea Ridge battlefield. Including the critical Ozarks thoroughfare of the Wire Road in the book was an inspired choice.
4. "The Battle Raged... With Terrible Fury:" Battlefield Archaeology of Pea Ridge National Military Park by Carl Carlson-Drexler, Douglas Scott, and Harold Roeker (2008).
This highly readable government report is an archaeological study of the battlefield that arrives at some interesting conclusions. You can download the digital version for free from here.
5. The March to the River: From the Battle of Pea Ridge to Helena, Spring 1862
by Robert G. Schultz (2014).
The resounding victory at Pea Ridge left Union military authorities in NW Arkansas in a quandary over how to properly exploit it. While its narrative is choppy and maps poor, Schultz's book is the first and only full-length account of General Curtis's long march west to east across the state and his occupation of Helena after the aborted advance on Little Rock.


  1. Hello Drew

    I agree with your thoughts on Pea Ridge - Shea & Hess, a wonderful read.


    1. One of my chief laments with doing this site is the fact that I have so little time left over to revisit old favorites. It's been way too long since my last reread of "Pea Ridge."

  2. Really enjoying the "Five Books on..." series. I also like the mixture of well-known and obscure topics. I'm reading the Charleston Siege entry now.


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