The Western theater of the Civil War, rich in agricultural
resources and manpower and home to a large number of slaves,
stretched 600 miles north to south and 450 miles east to west from
the Appalachians to the Mississippi. If the South lost the West,
there would be little hope of preserving the Confederacy. Earl J.
Hess's comprehensive study of how Federal forces conquered and held
the West examines the geographical difficulties of conducting
campaigns in a vast land, as well as the toll irregular warfare
took on soldiers and civilians alike. Hess balances a thorough
knowledge of the battle lines with a deep understanding of what was
happening within the occupied territories.
In addition to a mastery of logistics, Union victory hinged on
making use of black manpower and developing policies for
controlling constant unrest while winning campaigns. Effective use
of technology, superior resource management, and an aggressive
confidence went hand in hand with Federal success on the
battlefield. In the end, Confederates did not have the manpower,
supplies, transportation potential, or leadership to counter Union
initiatives in this critical arena.