Sunday, September 27, 2009

Excellent Book about the Battle of Wilson's Creek

William Garrett Piston and Richard W. Hatcher III’s book, Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2000) rates as another outstanding book about a Trans-Mississippi battle. The battle of Wilson's Creek occurred on 10 August 1861 just a few miles southwest of Springfield, Missouri. Although the battle was a Confederate victory, the Confederates were unable to capitalize on their triumph. Not only was it an important battle in the struggle for control of Missouri, but the fiery Union commander, Nathaniel Lyons, was killed during the battle. The smaller scale of battles in the Trans-Mississippi allows historians to write of battles in great detail and give increased coverage of related topics. In this book, the authors carefully explain the entire campaign and the ensuing battle; the eight maps are a well done enhancement to the text. The authors give an unusual amount of coverage to the backgrounds of some of the regiments and the geographical areas that they hailed from. It is unusual in a campaign history to gain such a strong sense of the soldiers’ civilian backgrounds and the important ties between soldiers and their hometowns. Since reading this book, I have been unable to visit Wilson’s Creek without also thinking about St. Louis, Missouri; Marshall, Texas; Davenport, Iowa; Lawrence, Kansas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Winn Parish, Louisiana, and other communities that provided the soldiers that fought at Wilson’s Creek.

“Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;”

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