Like its predecessors, the fourth and final volume of Confederate Generals in the Western Theater makes a generous contribution to the historiography of a poorly understood theater of war, presenting new interpretations of major figures while bringing to light both the triumphs and failures of lesser-known generals. Its cutting-edge scholarship offers further grounding for the editors’ contention that the South’s bid for independence was lost on its western battlefields and that the responsibility for those defeats lay more with the Confederate generals than with their opponents.
Among the ten chapters, this collection includes C. David Dalton on the death of Felix Zollicoffer at the Battle of Mill Springs in Kentucky; Roger Durham on Robert E. Lee’s leadership early in the war of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and East Florida; Brian S. Wills on Abraham Buford’s behind-the-scenes contributions to Nathan Bedford Forrest’s famous exploits; the late Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes Jr. on the achievements and failings of Gideon J. Pillow; James M. Prichard on John Hunt Morgan and his “last Kentucky raid”; and Keith S. Bohannon on Edward C. Walthall, a Virginia lawyer who overcame his lack of prior military experience to become one of the ablest generals in any of the war’s theaters. Some essays offer full biographies of their subjects; others focus on a single campaign. Along with the previous volumes, this exemplary collection encourages an important rethinking of the course of the Civil War and its ultimate outcome.
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