I am about as “Eastern Theater” as you can get when it comes to the Civil War. I was born and raised in Washington DC, and just down the street from the remains of Fort Stevens, site of a Civil War battle (July 1864). I have visited the Manassas, Antietam, and Gettysburg battlefields (and I have also been to Shiloh and Bentonville). And so much Civil War history I have read or seen in Hollywood films has certainly been East Coast focused. I will not get into which place I believe was THE theater of the war; but without question, all major places where the war took place were vital to United States victory. I have been fortunate to put together a personal Civil War library. I recently made the effort to break my books down into various categories. I received some suggestions for how to organize my books. For now, I decided to go with arranging them by subject matter. I put all my Western theater (non-oversized) books together. I made the discovery that I have about half a shelf of books on the war in the West. I like to think half a shelf of books is significant in my library. I say that simply because I saw a discussion between a historian and a member of his audience on a subject he mentioned during his lecture. The audience member said he had a book at home about the subject. The historian responded, “I’ve got half a shelf of books on that subject!” So, I believe “half a shelf” is a good measure.
Anyway, here is my shelf. Western Theater is towards the right (after Appomattox):
My books include a one-volume on the battle of Bentonville; the command of Confederate General Sterling Price; a memoir of the Andrews Raid; and books on the Union Army of the Tennessee and the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Of course, I have other books, including two complete Time-Life series sets - The Civil War (steel-gray books with blue trim); and the even better Voices of the Civil War. Many Western Theater battles are covered in these sets. And I also have other oversized volumes on other shelves that include Western Theater history.
To me, I do not see a hard, rigid line between the theaters, and I think there is a lot of overlap. Others may disagree but Bentonville (North Carolina) is Western Theater because of Generals Sherman and Johnston fighting there after coming north from Georgia and South Carolina. More Western Theater information can be found in my other one-volume narratives or re-boxes of series like the 1911 Miller picture history of the War.
The Civil War in the West is not a competition to the war in the East; but it is a history that is there to be learned ... and this wonderful blog is a great place to discover it.