Friday, March 22, 2019

Booknotes: All Hell Can’t Stop Them

New Arrival:
All Hell Can’t Stop Them: The Battles for Chattanooga-Missionary Ridge and Ringgold, November 24-27, 1863 by David A. Powell (Savas Beatie, 2019).

David Powell's All Hell Can’t Stop Them is the sequel to 2017's Battle Above the Clouds, which covered the Union army's breaking of the Chattanooga siege through the successful conclusion of the Battle of Lookout Mountain. "To many of the Federal soldiers watching the Stars and Stripes unfurl atop Lookout Mountain on the morning of November 25, 1863, it seemed that the battle to relieve Chattanooga was complete. The Union Army of the Cumberland was no longer trapped in the city, subsisting on short rations and awaiting rescue; instead, they were again on the attack."

All Hell Can’t Stop Them recounts Grant's attempt to finish the job. "That blow landed on the afternoon of November 25. Each of Grant’s assembled forces—troops led by Union Generals William T. Sherman, George H. Thomas, and Joseph Hooker—all moved to the attack. Stubbornly, Bragg refused to retreat, and instead accepted battle. That decision would cost him dearly."

"But everything did not go Grant’s way. Despite what Grant’s many admirers would later insist was his most successful, most carefully planned battle, Grant’s strategy failed him—as did his most trusted commander, Sherman. Victory instead charged straight up the seemingly impregnable slopes of Missionary Ridge’s western face, as the men of the much-maligned Army of the Cumberland swarmed up and over Bragg’s defenses in an irresistible blue tide." The account ends with the Confederate rear guard stand at Ringgold Gap, which "held Grant’s Federals at bay and saved the Army of Tennessee from further disaster."

A nice set of maps were commissioned for the book. In addition to a driving tour there are four appendices. The first revisits the enduring controversy surrounding the Union charge up Missionary Ridge, the second looks at Longstreet's East Tennessee campaign, the third examines monument disputes, and the last traces the redeployment of two corps from the Army of the Potomac to reinforce Chattanooga (where they would be redesignated Twentieth Corps).

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