Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Trans-Mississippi Bibliography

In a November 27th posting on his excellent blog, Civil War Books and Authors, Drew Wagenhoffer highlighted an important bibliography compiled by Gordon Chappell. Maybe (probably) this makes me a geek, but I do enjoy a well done bibliography. It's helpful to see a listing of books and other materials on a topic, and I am often led to previously unknown resources.

Chappell's The Civil War in the American West Bibliography is an extensive listing of books, monographs, and pamphlets. Helpfully, the compiler also includes comments about many of the works. Check it out--I bet you'll find some surprises!


  1. It's not a surprise, but seeing it in the compiled biblio finally sparked me to get Geise's "The Confederate Military Forces in the Trans-Mississippi West, 1861-1865 : A Study in Command" thru ILL. hopefully, I'll have it by the weekend. I believe Chappell is in error that it is a published monograph (I've only seen it so in a Jerry Thompson biblio), as most bibliographies list it in the dissertation section. I could be wrong, though. It's always possible a small print run was made. Thanks for the mention.

  2. I've heard of the Geise dissertation but have never read it. I'll be interested to read your opinion of it.

  3. Unfortunately the library won't let me take it home, so if I want to read it I have to sit there and read it while babies scream and people talk loudly [modern public libraries=day care]. Anyway, these are my first impressions:

    Including the chapter notes, the narrative part runs almost 300 pages. It doesn't really go into campaigns and battles but rather is a command and staff history of the various districts. In this it is pretty comprehensive, giving attention to far flung districts in Texas, LA, MO, and Ark. and there's national Confederate context as well. Much of the first 1/3 focuses on SW and SE Missouri. From the parts I skimmed, the analysis is pretty conventional given how a lot of this stuff has been covered in the intervening 40 years. The big theme is the struggle to create a unified command structure for the Trans-Mississippi. The entire 2nd half of the dissertation is basically Robert Kerby's "Kirby Smith's Confederacy", pretty much going into every departmental issue...politics, military, trade, industry, etc. after the goal of unified command was finally achieved.

    1. For some reason, your comment wasn't forwarded to me so I've just now retrieved it. I'd say that you did an admirable job of analysis in spite of the distractions at the public library! Thanks for your comments about the dissertation. Sometime I'll take a look at it too.