Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Book News: Tullahoma

Conducted concurrently with two major campaigns (Grant's siege of Vicksburg and Meade's defensive stand in Pennsylvania) that were both approaching triumphal conclusion, William S. Rosecrans's own forward movement in Tennessee on the war's central front (what came to be known as the Tullahoma Campaign) was also dramatically successful. Even so, after driving the Confederacy's principal western army almost entirely out of Tennessee through maneuver rather than heavy fighting, the operation has been doomed to comparative obscurity. Though generally well-known to students of the war, and considered a masterpiece of the operational art by some, literature treatment of the Tullahoma Campaign has been relegated to articles and book chapters along with a single, very brief monograph. However, this will change sometime in the near future when the campaign will finally be given the full-length treatment it deserves in David Powell and Eric Wittenberg's Tullahoma: The Forgotten Campaign that changed the Civil War, June 23 - July 4, 1863 (Savas Beatie, est. 2020).

From the description: "The complex and fascinating campaign included deceit, hard marching, fighting, and incredible luck—both good and bad. Rosecrans executed a pair of feints against Guy’s Gap and Liberty Gap to deceive the Rebels into thinking the main blow would fall somewhere other than where it was designed to strike. An ineffective Confederate response exposed one of Bragg’s flanks—and his entire army—to complete disaster. Torrential rains and consequential decisions in the field wreaked havoc on the best-laid plans. Still Bragg hesitated, teetering on the brink of losing the second most important field army in the Confederacy. The hour was late and time was short, and his limited withdrawal left the armies poised for a climactic engagement that may have decided the fate of Middle Tennessee, and perhaps the war. Finally fully alert to the mortal threat facing him, Bragg pulled back from the iron jaws of defeat about to engulf him and retreated—this time all the way to Chattanooga, the gateway to the rest of the Southern Confederacy."

Given the qualities of exhaustive research, attention to detail, and keen analysis that are characteristic of prior works from both prolific authors, there's no doubt the book will meet high expectations. More: "Powell and Wittenberg mined hundreds of archival and firsthand accounts to craft a splendid study of this overlooked campaign that set the stage for the Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga, the removal of Rosecrans and Bragg from the chessboard of war, the elevation of U.S. Grant to command all Union armies, and the early stages of William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. Tullahoma—one of the most brilliantly executed major campaigns of the war—was pivotal to Union success in 1863 and beyond." Looking forward to it.

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