The Civil War and the West
The Frontier Transformed
by Carol L. Higham
October 2013, 152pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39358-7
$55, £43, 48€, A76
eBook Available: 978-0-313-39359-4
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The United States, Indian nations, and international forces all wanted the American West.

Between 1800 and the Civil War, the American West evolved from a region to territories to states. This book depicts the development of the antebellum West from the perspective of a resident of the Western frontier.

What happened in the West in the lead-up to and during the American Civil War? The Civil War and the West: The Frontier Transformed provides a clear and complete answer to this question. The work succinctly overviews the West during the antebellum period from 1800 to 1862, supplying thematic chapters that explain how key elements and characteristics of the West created conflict and division that differed from those in the East during the Civil War. It looks at how these issues influenced the military, settlement, and internal territorial conflicts about statehood in each region, and treats the Cherokee and other Indian nations as important actors in the development of a national narrative.


  • Provides both a historical overview of the antebellum West and detailed examinations of specific issues that shaped Western responses to the Civil War, serving students in Western American history and general American survey courses as well as students of the Civil War
  • Explains how unique elements of the West, such as international influences, the military, the Indians, and settlement and legislation, created conflict that differed from what was experienced in the East during the Civil War
Carol L. Higham, PhD, teaches at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Her published works include Conquests and Consequences: From Frontier to Region, with William Katerberg; One West, Two Myths, Volumes 1 and 2, with Robert Thacker; and Noble, Wretched, and Redeemable: Protestant Missionaries to the Indians in Canada and the United States, 1820–1900. She previously taught at Davidson College, Texas A & M University, and Winona State University.


"Carol Higham’s fine study of the North American West in the Civil War era illustrates that sectional politics, sectional strains, and the Civil War affected the western states and territories intimately, although in much different ways than established states in the Midwest, South, or East. This important book crosses traditional boundaries and borders by examining a broad geographical area, but also deftly shows the interaction between the varied and distinct people who occupied the West. Among the book’s many strengths are Higham’s analysis of the complex and often contradictory role of the federal government in the West and the author’s discussion of the often-tragic status of American Indians. Rich in detail and providing an important addition to the scholarship on the American West during the Civil War era, The Civil War and the West is certain to spark lively debate among both Civil War and western historians."—Dr. Albert S. Broussard, Professor, Department of History, Texas A&M University

"Well-argued, clearly written, and innovative in approach, Carol Higham’s new book performs an important service to scholars and other serious students of the American Civil War. In her survey of the war years in the western states, she shows how little impact the war had on residents of the West. They were much more interested in the conflicts between the U.S. Army and Native Americans, trade with Asia, building their communities, possible statehood, and restrictions on non-white immigrants of all kinds. The war that has fascinated Americans for 150 years was mere 'background noise' to most Westerners, a conclusion that will prompt Civil War scholars to think about the great conflict on a broader scale. The author also stresses another important point: beginning in the 1860s, the role of the federal government in the lives of Westerners expanded and transformed the region from a disconnected series of diverse communities into a new 'region' of the United States, with the U.S. Army providing the protection, leadership, and initiative to hold the formerly disjointed pieces together."—Richard Lowe, University of North Texas

"This important book is a concise, well-written, and profound survey of the two pivotal decades up through the outbreak of the Civil War in the vast trans-Mississippi West. It presents an insightful interpretation of the impact of events on the land’s diverse peoples—Northerners and Southerners, European ethnic groups, Indians, Hispanics, and African Americans—by arguing that the Civil War rapidly transformed the West from a region of sectional struggle and international conflict to one dominated by the relentless and finally overwhelming power of the United States federal government."—T. Michael Parrish, Baylor University
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