Wilson’s Creek, Pea Ridge, & Prairie Grove: A Battlefield Guide with a Section on Wire Road. By Earl J. Hess, Richard W. Hatcher III, William Garrett Piston, and William L. Shea.
The following review was submitted to On Point: The Journal of Army History (Army Historical Foundation):
The battles of
As national parks, the Wilson’s Creek and Pea Ridge battlefields are unique in that they encompass significant portions of the land on which fighting took place. This reviewer has visited the
The series editors could hardly have done better in choosing the authors for this guide; as a group, the authors are expert historians who have produced some of the seminal works on Civil War’s
In its format, the book follows the style of other titles in the University of Nebraska’s “This Hallowed Ground” series of battlefield guides (including Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Shiloh, and the Seven Days), with sections on Directions, Orientation, What Happened, Analysis, and Vignettes. This volume also has about a half dozen “Optional Excursions” which take the reader on secondary tours. More than forty maps (excellent for their topographical detail) orient the reader to the layout of the parks themselves as well as the action that took place. A brief annotated bibliography provides ideas for reading in advance of a battlefield visit or for reflection on return.
The authors avoid the inherent danger of any compilation by aptly using the introductory “Overview’ sections to describe the historical threads that tie the three battles together. For example, Hess begins the chapter on Pea Ridge by first discussing military movements that took place after
While a historical thread – including strategy and leaders – runs through the narrative of the three battles, so does an actual “thread”: the
Overall, the authors aptly describe the historic action while making sense of the modern parks’ tour roads; this is no mean feat, as the roads do not always conform to the chronology of the battles. Still, there are a few areas for improvement. The Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove chapters are much lighter on analysis – the most useful part of the book – than the