Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Booknotes: Decisions of the 1862 Kentucky Campaign

New Arrival:
Decisions of the 1862 Kentucky Campaign: The Twenty-Seven Critical Decisions That Defined the Operation by Larry Peterson (UT Press, 2019).

This is the sixth installment (and third from author Larry Peterson) in University of Tenneseee Press's new and interesting Command Decisions in America's Civil War series, which has been releasing titles at a almost blinding clip since the 2018 publication of the first volume. With Gettysburg and Wilderness/Spotsylvania entries in the upcoming F/W catalog, the series is showing no signs of slowing down.

From the description: "By early 1862, Union forces had won successive victories in the emerging Western Theater of the American Civil War. Forts Henry and Donelson had fallen, handing control of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers to the US Navy; the siege of Corinth had ceded rail lines to Union control; and New Orleans, the Confederacy’s prized port, had been captured by Admiral Farragut. The Kentucky Campaign was meant to reverse Confederate fortunes and recapture the Bluegrass State for the Confederacy. Though the Rebels won a tactical victory at Perryville and successfully drew Union forces away from northern Alabama and middle Tennessee, their ultimate retreat would leave Kentucky in the hands of the Union Army for the remainder of the war."

Decisions of the 1862 Kentucky Campaign: The Twenty-Seven Critical Decisions That Defined the Operation joins Peterson's previous volume (Atlanta) in marking a momentary series shift in format to higher-level coverage of longer campaigns (notice the subtitle shift in volumes 5 and 6 from "Battle" to "Operation"). The book "introduces readers to critical decisions made by Confederate and Union commanders throughout the heartland contest. Rather than offering a history of the Kentucky Campaign, Larry Peterson hones in on a sequence of critical decisions confronting commanders on both sides of the clash to provide a blueprint of the campaign at its tactical core. Identifying and exploring the critical decisions in this way allows students of history to go from a rudimentary sense of the 'what' of warfare, to a mature grasp of 'why.'"

As is the case with all of the books in the series, this one has an extensive driving tour appendix specifically focused on the decisions explored earlier in the text. There are also orders of battle for both sides.

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