Monday, February 4, 2019

Booknotes: A Burned Land

New Arrival:
A Burned Land: The Trans-Mississippi in the Civil War by Robert R. Laven
  (McFarland, 2019).

From the description: "Often neglected by historians, actions in Missouri and Kansas had an important influence on the course of the Civil War, with profound effects for the communities and people in the region. This book focuses on the experiences of the soldiers, officers and civilians on both sides. Outside of Virginia and Tennessee, Missouri was perhaps the most hotly contested territory during the war. The author brings to life the events in the region that contributed to the internecine strife in the Western Theater. The fighting in Missouri culminated with an expedition that re-wrote the books on tactics and the use of mounted infantry."

While the full title A Burned Land: The Trans-Mississippi in the Civil War suggests a more theater-wide discussion, Laven's book is really about Missouri. Beginning in 1862, the book addresses a series of military topics in chronological order, with more than half the 150-page narrative devoted to Sterling Price's 1864 expedition. For visual aids, some photographs are included along with a line drawing of one of the forts guarding St. Louis and an old map of the Battle of Westport. Among the numerous appendices is a useful-looking order of battle series for some of the 1864 engagements described in the text. At a double-column page and a half in size, the bibliography is modest in scope.

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