A history of the Civil War in the West

THE CIVIL WAR IN THE WEST: Victory and Defeat From the Appalachians to the Mississippi. By Earl J. Hess. University of North Carolina Press. 392 pages. $40.

The Civil War in the West encompassed a vast region from south of the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico and west from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River.

Here, some of greatest military actions of the war were fought: Shiloh, Vicksburg, Murfreesboro and Chickamauga.

Some historians contend that the Union achieved victory due to its successful operations in this region — most notably its control of the Mississippi River — from July of 1863 through the end of the war.

While an impressive number of books on the various campaigns, battles, people and units in the West have been published, professor Earl J. Hess may be the first to address the conflict in this region in one volume.

Hess’ style is both clear and concise, moving the reader through the western war’s major military operations. In addition, Hess reveals the unique political, civilian, transportation and commercial aspects of the war in this region.

Everyone interested in learning about the war beyond the Appalachians should start with Hess’s work. It is an outstanding overview of the Civil War in the West and presents readers who know of the war in its eastern context with an understanding of its greater dimension.

A gateway for introducing readers to the people, places and events that played a major influence in the war’s outcome.

Hess has produced a valuable resource on this aspect of the war.

Reviewer Richard W. Hatcher III, the historian at Fort Sumter National Monument