Now Available: War in the Western Theater

Have you had the chance to explore the war in the Western Theater yet? Specifically, The War in the Western Theater? It’s the latest book in the Emerging Civil War 10th Anniversary Series, co-edited by Sarah Kay Beirle and me, available from Savas Beatie.

I’ll be honest: the book came out a couple weeks ago, but I’ve been up to my eyeballs in a couple other not-so-top-secret projects, including my upcoming The Tempest of Iron and Lead: Spotsylvania Court House, May 8–21, 1864 (Savas Beatie, 2024). That’s pretty Eastern-focused, I know. But while I was hot and heavy in the midst of page proofs, I had a half-dozen boxes of books show up on my porch filled with books about a whole bunch of things between the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River. That’s a whole lot of ground crammed into six boxes!

That’s one of the things I like most about The War in the Western Theater: it covers a tremendous amount of stuff, from Charleston through Shiloh, Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Franklin, Nashville, Fort Blakely, and even Andersonville.

We have action up and down the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Memphis and all the way up to Chicago! We even have some additional Vicksburg-related pieces in this book even though the 10th Anniversary Series already has The Summer of ’63: Vicksburg and Tullahoma. We are overflowing with cool stuff!

Chris Kolakowski juxtaposes the Western and Eastern Theaters, David Dixon considers tactical innovations, and a panel discussion compares and contrasts the two Johnstons, Joe vs. Albert Sidney.

Our publisher, Ted Savas, has an article related to his beloved Augusta Powder Works in there, and its relation to riverine warfare and Forts Henry and Donelson. If you know Ted, you know he loves his powder works, so this was a real treat to read.

In total, we have forty-eight contributions from twenty-six historians, plus another cool photo collection by Chris Heisey, who also did our cover photo. Dave Powell—whose upcoming Atlanta stuff is sure to rock everybody’s socks off—provided the foreword, and there are great maps from Edward Alexander and Hal Jespersen. It’s another exceptional team effort from my friends and colleagues at ECW, and I hope you’ll take a look.

And while you’re at it, check out the entire Emerging Civil War 10th Anniversary Series from Savas Beatie:


About the Book

Often relegated to a backseat by action in the Eastern Theater, the Western Theater is actually where the Federal armies won the Civil War.

In the West, General Ulysses S. Grant strung together a series of victories that ultimately led him to oversee Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House and, eventually, two terms in the White House. In the West, the fall of Atlanta secured Lincoln’s reelection for his own second term. In the West, Federal armies split the Confederacy in two—and then split it in two again.

In the West, Federal armies inexorably advanced, gobbling up huge swaths of territory in the face of ineffective Confederate opposition. By war’s end, General William T. Sherman had marched the “Western Theater” all the way into central North Carolina.

In the Eastern Theater, the principal armies fought largely within a 100-mile corridor between the capitals of Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia, with a few ill-fated Confederate invasions north of the Mason-Dixon Line. The Western Theater, in contrast, included the entire area between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River, from Kentucky in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south—a vast geographic expanse that, even today, can be challenging to understand.

War in the Western Theater: Favorite Stories and Fresh Perspectives from the Historians at Emerging Civil War revisits some of the Civil War’s most legendary battlefields: Shiloh, Chickamauga, Franklin, the March to the Sea, and more.


Advance Praise

“For much of the previous century, the Western Theater was relegated to the backburner. Thankfully, the contributing voices of the Emerging Civil War have greatly expanded our knowledge of that ‘forgotten’ theater. These essays bring an entirely new level of scholarly quality to discussions of the most decisive theater of the war.” — Joseph D. Ricci, Historian, Battle of Franklin Trust

“With nearly 50 separate entries by almost as many authors, War in the Western Theater is thought-provoking and well worth the read. There is a wealth of facts to be mined here and plenty of revelations about obscure but important leaders and actions. Penetrating observations abound. Simply stated, this book satisfies on many levels.” — Brig. Gen. Parker Hills (Ret.), Battle Focus Tours

War in the Western Theater presents an eclectic potpourri of unique, interesting, and easily readable essays on diverse aspects of the Civil War in the West. Subjects range from civilian life on the home front to soldiers on the battlefields. Abundant maps and photos connect characters and events to the reader.” — Stephen M. Hood, award-winning author of John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General and The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood

2 Responses to Now Available: War in the Western Theater

  1. The War in the West: I have a great project for anyone who might be interested, especially History graduate students.

    One of my 25 ancestors who fought in the war was in Company C, 78th Pennsylvania, Army of the Cumberland, with half a dozen of his brothers and other relatives. He kept a diary that opens with him recovering in hospital from being struck in the face with buckshot at Stones River. I only recently received photocopies of the pages from a distant cousin, and right now do not have the time to transcribe it, as I am busy with another project. It is not easy to read – he wrote in scratchy pen and ink – but I thought that if someone out there is skilled at transcribing difficult works, and/or is working on a degree in Civil War studies, they would like to work on the transcription of this diary. They will receive major credit as well as payment when my book about the boys in this company is published.

    If interested, get in touch! Thank you!

    1. I would suggest this person for transcribing work. It is done for free, but his only “fee” is that he be allowed to publish them on his blog sites. He earns nothing from that publication. The Civil War Center at Shepard University is working with him to keep all the digital transcripts in one place for researchers to use in perpetuity.

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