Book Reviews 149
nored or denounced these two ventures and focused on their descrip-
tion of the Plains as the Great American Desert.
This new edition of the explorers' published journals is based on the
four-volume, 1905 version edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites. Maxine
Benson's introduction identifies the participants, sets the expeditions
clearly into the context of American expansion, scientific interests, and
the technological developments of the era. She made modest deletions
in the 1905 text, including several chapters of detailed scientific find-
ings as well as the extensive notes. New, thorough annotations are use-
ful, while the bibliography gives readers a clear direction for further
reading on nineteenth-century art, science, and exploration. The book
includes several sections of attractive artwork that illustrate some of the
graphic results of the expedition. A detailed map or two with present
boundaries would have been useful but not critical for interested read-
ers. This abridgement of the 1819-1820 expedition journals provides
a clear, attractive, and well-presented edition of the material and in so
doing it offers readers another chance to consider early American west-
ern exploration through the eyes of the participants.
University of Arzzona ROGER L. NICHOLS
The Saga of the Confederate Ram Arkansas: The Misszssippz Valley Cam-
paign, 1862. By Tom Z. Parrish. (Hillsboro, Tex.: Hill College
Press, 1987. Pp. xvii+237. Acknowledgments, preface, introduc-
tion, notes, bibliography, appendix, index. $15-)
In August 1861 the Confederate Congress authorized the construc-
tion of several ironclad vessels, one of which was named the C.S.S.
Arkansas. The initial construction took place in Memphis, but the un-
finished ship was towed to Greenwood, Mississippi, on the Yazoo River
when the Union advance threatened Memphis. On July 2, 1862, the
Arkansas was commissioned. Cased in four-inch iron rails, armed with
twelve heavy guns, and carrying a crew of 200 men, the Arkansas mea-
sured 165 feet in length with a beam of thirty-five feet and drew four-
teen feet of water. Her commanding officer, Lieut. Issac Newton Brown,
a veteran of twenty-seven years in the U.S. Navy, was a first-rate sailor.
The future for the Arkansas looked bright.
Two clouds loomed on the horizon, however, as the ship prepared to
weigh anchor and sail to engage the Union fleets on the Mississippi
River. First, as with most other Confederate ironclads, the Arkansas' en-
gines from the start exhibited a propensity to fail at critical moments.
Second, President Jefferson Davis placed the Arkansas under the direct
orders of Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn, a hell-for-leather cavalryman who
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/. Accessed April 21, 2014.