As promised, here is the conclusion of the question and answer session with Dr. William L. Shea. His forthcoming book Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign may be ordered from Amazon.com or the
Were there any unique features to the campaign?
Professor Shea: Where do I start? The entire operation, from start to finish, is absolutely fascinating. Hindman appointed himself military governor, created an army from scratch, and set out to liberate
Your comment that "Hindman was the most successful of all Confederate generals" will certainly draw some attention! Please explain in more detail why you think he was so successful.
Professor Shea: So little has been done on the Trans-Mississippi that it is still essentially "virgin soil" for historians. Because my book is the first scholarly account of the campaign I expect it will serve as the "standard" until something better comes along, which will inevitably happen, of course.
Professor Shea: When Earl Hess and I began our research on Pea Ridge ages ago, we were warned that it was impossible to do a book-length study of anything on the Trans-Mississippi because of a lack of documentary material. We also were advised not to bother because the Trans-Mississippi was a backwater of no significance. But we were heedless youths and pressed ahead undeterred. Over the next few years we found hundreds of manuscript collections scattered across dozens of states. We ended up with far more material than we could possibly use.
If my experience is any guide, there is enough material "out there" to support research into nearly every aspect of the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi.