Since many history books have insufficient maps, readers often supplement them by purchasing separate atlases. Visualizing the terrain features and the placement of units can be very important to understanding the flow of a battle, regardless of how good the text description might be.
History books are considered primary sources when they were created by people who were there at the time of the event. One of the best primary sources of Civil War maps was a book series called The Official Records (OR) of the War of the Rebellion (that’s how the Civil War was described by the North), which was created right after the war.
The series contained over 100 volumes. It’s not easy to find now, but a company later reprinted all of the maps from the OR series into an enormous book called The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War. Unfortunately, the publisher didn’t take much care in how he put the maps together; there are no page numbers, and the book is hundreds of pages long. This makes it very difficult to find a particular battle or area you want to study.
Even if you can find them, there are only five rudimentary maps that show the Battle of Shiloh, which was a very important battle fought by Ulysses S. Grant. He lost the fighting on the first day, but won the battle on the second day. Yet if you’re looking to study this battle, these OR maps don’t really show much, just the terrain and some key features. For examples, it shows where the Union and Confederate armies were set up at the beginning of Shiloh, and then where another Union army arrived to counterattack on the second day.
In Grant Rising, we have a total of seven tactical maps showing each phase of the two-day battle. We have a map that shows where the Union or Federal side was set up at the beginning, then there’s a map that shows you how the Confederates marched to the battlefield. I’m not aware of any other single source where you can find all of these details.
Hal Jespersen’s skillful style of cartography offers much more information than most maps. You can see exactly how the battle unfolded, and what went wrong for both sides. There is even an extra map in the Shiloh series that shows how Lew Wallace got lost with his division and finally made it to the battlefield, which was very controversial at the time. Grant never forgave him.
No has ever presented the battle of Shiloh at this level of tactical, operational and strategic detail, certainly not in color with Hal’s clear and dynamic art. This series of color maps is unique to our book, unique to Hal’s work, and we believe it will serve as a valuable reference guide for many, many years.