The Arkansas River Valley is one of the most fertile regions in the
South. During the Civil War, the river also served as a vital
artery for moving troops and supplies. In 1863 the battle to wrest
control of the valley was, in effect, a battle for the state
itself. In spite of its importance, however, this campaign is often
overshadowed by the siege of Vicksburg. Now Mark K. Christ offers
the first detailed military assessment of parallel events in
Arkansas, describing their consequences for both Union and
Christ analyzes the campaign from military and political
perspectives to show how events in 1863 affected the war on a
larger scale. His lively narrative incorporates eyewitness accounts
to tell how new Union strategy in the Trans-Mississippi theater
enabled the capture of Little Rock, taking the state out of
Confederate control for the rest of the war. He draws on rarely
used primary sources to describe key engagements at the tactical
level--particularly the battles at Arkansas Post, Helena, and Pine
Bluff, which cumulatively marked a major turning point in the
In addition to soldiers' letters and diaries, Christ weaves
civilian voices into the story--especially those of women who had
to deal with their altered fortunes--and so fleshes out the human
dimensions of the struggle. Extensively researched and compellingly
told, Christ's account demonstrates the war's impact on Arkansas
and fills a void in Civil War studies.
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