It is hard to imagine a reader that has not seen some volume of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series.
A search on their website lists 6,823 products in the series. So this is no doubt an enormously popular template: a collection of vintage photographs and illustrations of a particular locale and theme, with in-depth captions written people with local connections. (Co-authors Dawn Dupler and Cher Petrovic fit the bill of having St. Louis roots, with both on the faculty at St. Louis Community College.)
Without a large-scale battle or campaign involving St. Louis, the typical Civil War reader might not have a sense of the role played by the city in the conflict.
Yet, as Dupler and Petrovic point out, the state of Missouri is behind only Virginia and Tennessee in the number of battles fought on its ground. St. Louis was the eighth-largest city in population; its location on the Mississippi River made it key to river traffic; and the St. Louis Arsenal contained the a large supply of military goods. “The conventional thinking at the time was that whoever controlled the St. Louis Arsenal and its large cache of weapons controlled Missouri.” As a border state, Missouri could go either way.
A May 1861 showdown between the opposing forces known as the “Camp Jackson Affair” solidified the North’s hold on the city, but increased the polarization that existed prior to the war.
Within 10 chapters, St. Louis’ role is organized and presented. Among the varied personalities with ties to the city are Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant (whose ties warrant a full chapter), William T. Sherman, James Longstreet, George Pickett, Jefferson Davis, James Eads, Dred Scott, William Rosecrans, Dorothea Dix, Adolphus Busch (after serving in the Union Army, co-founded the brewery giant) Andrew Foote, Winfield Scott Hancock, Albert Sidney Johnston and many others.
It is a worthy addition to the series which provides an introduction to some little-known, but influential aspects of St. Louis in the Civil War.
Title: Images of America: St. Louis in the Civil War
Authors: Dawn Dupler and Cher Petrovic
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing