The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 478

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Struggle for the Heartland: The Campaign from Fort Henry to Corinth. By Stephen D.
Engle. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001ool. Pp. xxvi+251. Illustra-
tions, maps, introduction, acknowledgments, notes, bibliographical essay,
index. ISBN 0-8032-1818-4. $34.95, cloth.)
Stephen D. Engle's Struggle for the Heartland is the latest of the Great Campaigns
of the Czvil War series that offers "concise syntheses . .. reflecting recent scholar-
ship." Covering the critical campaigns in Kentucky and Tennessee in early 1862,
the book is written with broad strokes, little detail, and is based on secondary
works. Not primarily a traditional military history, Struggle for the Heartland is cen-
tered upon the "wide political and social context" surrounding the campaigns
and emphasizes the interactions, Southern and Northern, between civilian poli-
tics and society and military events.
Like many other Civil War scholars before him, Engle sees the region west of
the Appalachians and east of the Mississippi as the "Heartland" of the Confeder-
acy, whose loss was fatal to the young nation. The area was probably indefensi-
ble, in the face of superior naval power that the Union was quick to create. But
the Confederate's problems were exacerbated by their lack of all kinds of re-
sources, poor communications, and civilian politics that forced the Confederate
Army into a cordon defense to try to hold every foot of its thinly populated land.
Engle emphasizes, probably overemphasizes, the failure of the Confederate com-
manders to meet these strategic challenges effectively.
Vulnerable to penetration along the lines of the Tennessee, Cumberland, and
Mississippi Rivers, the Confederates were forced, without a major battle, from
the Ohio River line to northern Alabama and Mississippi. Unable to muster suffi-
cient strength for a successful counterattack at Shiloh, the Southerners were
driven into the Deep South after Corinth. Although he overstates it, Engle is
probably correct in believing that this is the truly decisive campaign of the Civil
War as it meant the permanent loss of control over the region for the South.
It is here also, Tennessee and Kentucky, from February to May 1862, that the
nature of the Civil War crystallized. Lincoln abandoned limited war and recon-
ciliation for what Mark Grimsley labeled the "hard war," waged on Southern so-
ciety by ruthless soldiers like Grant and Sherman who both emerged during this
campaign. Lincoln understood that the costs of making war directly on South-
ern civilians would be to unite them in a prolonged and determined resistance
that lasted long after 1865. But, according to Engle, he had no choice as he
needed Radical support and because of the ineffectiveness of the limited war be-
ing waged by MacClellan, Buell, and Halleck.
Struggle for the Heartland is overall a valuable short study of the decisive 1862
campaign in the West. The accompanying maps are especially good. There are a
few problems with the book. It is simply too short to cover what needs to be cov-
ered. And, while many important topics are slighted, the surrenders at Forts
Donelson and Henry are given in detail. Engle's sentence style is often too com-
plex to be clear.



Unverszty of West Alabama


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. ( accessed June 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.

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