Decision in the Heartland


Decision in the Heartland

The Civil War in the West

Steven E. Woodworth

202 pages
24 illustrations, 7 maps


July 2011


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The verdict is in: the Civil War was won in the West, that is, in the nation’s heartland, between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. Contrary to much popular literature, serious scholars have determined in one careful study after another the pivotal importance of what was, at the time of the Civil War, the western United States. In this fast-paced overview, Steven E. Woodworth presents his case for the decisiveness of that theater.
Overwhelming evidence now indicates that western campaigns cost the Confederacy vast territories, the manufacturing center of Nashville, the financial center of New Orleans, communications hubs such as Corinth, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, along with the agricultural produce of the breadbasket of the Confederacy. They sapped the morale of Confederates and buoyed the spirits of Unionists, ultimately sealing the Northern electorate’s decision to return Lincoln to the presidency for a second term and to see the war through to final victory. Detailing the “western” clashes (Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Chattanooga, and Atlanta) that proved so significant, Woodworth contends that it was there alone that the Civil War could be—and was—decided.

Author Bio

Steven E. Woodworth is a professor of history at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of thirty-one books, including Six Armies in Tennessee and Chickamauga, both available in Bison Books editions, as well as Jefferson Davis and His Generals, winner of the 1990 Fletcher Pratt Award.


“Woodworth presents with precision and clarity a comprehensive overview of the war in the West. Penned with a unique level of intimacy and a highly focused perspective based on years of tenacious, painstaking, and thorough research and analysis, the book weaves a captivating narrative and is a delightfully good read.”—Journal of American History

“Woodworth does his usual excellent job of examining the conflicts among commanders and the politics of war that infiltrated the western theater much more so than the eastern. . . . [Decision in the Heartland] would be an excellent addition to syllabi in higher education classrooms, especially those in the East.”—Michael B. Ballard, Journal of Southern History

“The Army of the Potomac, Steven Woodworth claims, ‘faced futility,’ but Union armies in the West were able to take advantage of more fruitful opportunities. ‘The decision would come in the heartland.’ This enjoyable, brief work pursues this theme stylishly, and presents accessible accounts of the western campaigns.”—Brian Holden Reid, War in History

“Civil War historiography has been dominated by Eastern theater historians, generals and battles ever since the war ended. Fortunately, there has been a rethinking of such one sided bias in the past few decades. There is no more important historian in this revisionist movement than Steven E. Woodworth. . . . Woodworth should be thanked for focusing on such an important topic.”—Timothy B. Smith, Civil War Times

“Woodworth’s account is accessible and fast-paced, and the maps and period photographs are both useful and interesting.”—Reference & Research Book News

"Steven Woodworth has written an excellent, succinct, and well-reasoned analysis of the Civil War in the western theater and its decisive importance to overall Union victory."—Timothy Story, Army History

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Forts Henry and Donelson
Chapter Two: The Confederacy Strikes Back
Chapter Three: The Presidents Take a Hand
Chapter Four: From Deadlock to Decision
Chapter Five: From Tullahoma to Missionary Ridge
Chapter Six: Winter Interlude, 1864
Chapter Seven: The Atlanta Campaign
Chapter Eight: To Durham Station
Bibliographical Essay

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