Civil War Book Review: The Chickamauga Campaign (Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland)

The Chickamauga Campaign (Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland)
edited by Steven E. Woodworth

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press; 1st Edition edition (April 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809329808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809329809

Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland is a brilliant series of essays edited by the historian Steven E. Woodworth.  These books are not introductions to the campaign but to provide an in-depth examination of a person or event in the campaign.  Each essay is by an experienced historian, with excellent writing skills with knowledge of the subject.  Steven E. Woodworth’s talents as an editor make this an outstanding series.  All essays are intelligent and detailed without being boring or losing the intended reader.  The result is a thought provoking enjoyable learning experience.

“The Chickamauga Campaign’ is no exception and might be the better than “The Shiloh Campaign”.  The selection of subjects and authors results is an in-depth look at the campaign and personalities.  The essays fully capture the complexities while building our understanding of these events.

Ethan S. Rafuse leads off with a look at the “other” Union Corps commanders, Thomas L. Crittenden and Alexander M. McCook.  This essay provides an overview of the campaign and resulting battle by following their actions.  A well-established author, he looks at the Army of the Cumberland and the results of the defeat.  Part politics, part military history, part army management 101 this is an excellent essay.

McLemore’s Cove is a major event in the campaign.  Bragg had a chance to destroy a Union division and badly damage Rosecrans here.  Steven E. Woodworth provides a balanced look at what did and did not happen and why.

Alexander Mendoza continues his excellent work with a look at D. H. Hill, Chickamauga and the questions caused.  This looks at how long the war of words lasted and the impact the war had on the lives of the men who fought it.

Lee White is starting to emerge as a speaker and writer.  His work as a historian and ranger at Chickamauga show in his essay on A. P. Stewart.

John R. Lundberg looks at one of the few planned night attacks during the war.  This is a detailed look at Cleburne’s attack, the reasons for it, the planning or lack of planning, the attack and what it costs.  This is a critical look at decision making in the Army of Tennessee with just a whiff of desperation.

William G. Robertson takes a critical look at James Longstreet and the breakthrough.  He first looks at Longstreet’s reception, orders and knowledge his command.  As the attack occurs, we follow Longstreet through the day seeing just what impact he has on the battle.

David Powell brings his expertise to bear in an essay on Negley at Horseshoe Ridge.   Back on the Union side, we follow their army management and how Negley reacts to differing orders.  We follow the fighting, his withdrawal and the ongoing questions this caused.

Most historians do not write about the founding of the National Military Parks.  Timothy B. Smith is an exception to this rule.  He has written on the development of Shiloh and here looks at Henry Van Ness Boynton.  Boynton was instrumental in the development of the idea for the parks.  In addition, he was a founder of the Chickamauga Park.  This essay opens this area of Civil War history to a wider audience.  This very enjoyable essay departs from the normal “Battles and Leaders” history.

The writers are historians and each essay is complete with footnotes.  A series of maps orientates the reader on the battlefield and in the area of the campaign.  An index and short bios of the contributors completes the book.

This is a series that anyone with an interest in the Western Campaigns needs in their library.  Each book is will designed; the essays are intelligent, informative and great reading.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *