Civil War Book Review: Kennesaw Mountain: Sherman, Johnston, and the Atlanta Campaign

Kennesaw Mountain: Sherman, Johnston, and the Atlanta Campaign (Civil War America)
by Earl J. Hess

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; First Edition edition (April 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1469602113
  • ISBN-13: 978-1469602110

KennesawMountainShermanJohnstonAndTheAtlantaCampaignHessIn 1864, the United States launched two major efforts to end the Civil War.

The Overland Campaign quickly became a brutal slugfest.  The Army of Northern Virginia was determined to fight for every inch of land and the Army of the Potomac was just as determined to advance.

Even after 3 years of war, the causality list shocked the public.  Most of the public’s attention focused on Lee and Grant in Virginia.

The Army of the Cumberland under George Thomas, the Army of the Tennessee under James B. McPherson and the Army of the Ohio under John Schofield reported to William Sherman.

They were to march into Georgia with two objectives: keep the Confederacy from reinforcing Lee with troops from Johnston and capture Atlanta.  Northern Georgia has room to maneuver and Sherman had the resources to do so.

Johnston would take a strong position.  Sherman would confront him with part of his force while using the rest to flank Johnston forcing him to fall back.  This was a campaign of marching and skirmishing with few battles.

Kennesaw Mountain is the largest and bloodiest battle of the campaign.  Johnston took a very strong position that was not easily flanked.  For a variety of reasons, Sherman elects to assault Johnston.

The author provides enough background and campaigning to set the stage without losing sight of the book’s object.  Once at Kennesaw, the gears shift from fast overview to a detailed look at the battle.

The result is a comprehensive history that never sacrifices readability for details.  This is not just “front & flanks”, although they are not ignored.

This is political considerations, competition within Sherman’s armies, care of the wounded and treatment of the POWs.  All of this is presented as it happens with almost no “would a, should a or could a”.

This style of presentation helps us understand the real situation as it was understood at the time.

Earl J. Hess is one of our best authors.  He writes very readable, informative histories that never fail to inform and entertain.

UNC Press is a premium publisher that refuses cut corners by skimping on maps, endnotes and all the things that we expect in a serious history.



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