The History Book Club discussion


Comments Showing 1-50 of 51 (51 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
This thread is dedicated to discussions related to the "WESTERN THEATER OF THE CIVIL WAR".

The Western Theater was an area defined by both geography and the sequence of campaigning. It originally represented the area east of the Mississippi River and west of the Appalachian Mountains.

It excluded operations against the Gulf Coast and the Eastern Seaboard, but as the war progressed and William Tecumseh Sherman's Union armies moved southeast from Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1864 and 1865, the definition of the theater expanded to encompass their operations in Georgia and the Carolinas. For operations in the Southwest see Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War.

The West was by some measures the most important theater of the war. The Confederacy was forced to defend with limited resources an enormous land mass, which was subject to Union thrusts along multiple avenues of approach, including major rivers that led directly to the agricultural heartland of the South. Capture of the Mississippi River was one of the key tenets of Union General Winfield Scott's Anaconda Plan.

The Virginia front was by far the more prestigious theater. ... Yet the war's outcome was decided not there but in the vast expanse that stretched west from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi and beyond. Here, in the West, the truly decisive battles were fought.

—Stephen E. Woodworth, Jefferson Davis and His Generals

The Eastern Theater received considerably more attention than the Western, both at the time and in historical accounts. This is related to the proximity of the opposing capitals, the concentration of newspapers in the major cities of the East, and the fame of Eastern generals such as Robert E. Lee, George B. McClellan, and Stonewall Jackson. Because of this, the progress that Union forces made in defeating Confederate armies in the West and overtaking Confederate territory went nearly unnoticed.

Military historian J. F. C. Fuller has described this as an immense turning movement, a left wheel that started in Kentucky, headed south down the Mississippi River, and then east through Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas. With the exception of the Battle of Chickamauga and some daring raids by cavalry or guerrilla forces, the four years in the West marked a string of almost continuous defeats for the Confederates; or, at best, tactical draws that eventually turned out to be strategic reversals. And the arguably most successful Union generals of the war (Grant, Thomas, Sherman, and Sheridan) came from this theater, consistently outclassing most of their Confederate opponents (with the possible exception of cavalry commander Nathan Bedford Forrest).

The campaign classification established by the United States National Park Service[2:] is more fine-grained than the one used in this article. Some minor NPS campaigns have been omitted and some have been combined into larger categories. Only a few of the 117 battles the NPS classifies for this theater are described. Boxed text in the right margin show the NPS campaigns associated with each section.

Source: Wikipedia

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Principal commanders of the Western Theater

Lt. Gen.
Ulysses S. Grant, USA

Maj. Gen.
Henry W. Halleck, USA

Maj. Gen.
William T. Sherman, USA

Maj. Gen.
George H. Thomas, USA

Maj. Gen.
Don Carlos Buell, USA

Maj. Gen.
William Rosecrans, USA

Albert Sidney Johnston, CSA

P.G.T. Beauregard, CSA

Joseph E. Johnston, CSA

Braxton Bragg, CSA

Lt. Gen.
John Bell Hood, CSA

Lt. Gen.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA

message 3: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) One book that I found very good at explaining the inter-action between Confederate Generals in the Western Theatre was Steven Woodworth's "Jefferson Davis and his Generals".

Jefferson Davis and His Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West (no cover) by Steven E. Woodworth

Two books covering some of the armies that operated in the West are:

Nothing but Victory The Army of the Tennessee, 1861-1865 by Steven E. Woodworth by Steven E. Woodworth (not read)
"The Union's military effort in the first half of the Civil War remains essentially defined by the Army of the Potomac: earnest and willing, but consistently outfought and outgeneraled. A similar image accompanies the Army of the Cumberland, the second most familiar Union field army. But in the Mississippi Valley, the North developed an army that defeated all comers from Shiloh to Savannah, participated in the war's decisive battles from Fort Donelson through Vicksburg to Atlanta, and raised some of the war's finest generals. Until now, the Army of the Tennessee has been relatively neglected—perhaps because it fails to fit the Union stereotype of triumphing by force rather than finesse. Woodworth, a historian at Texas Christian University who has written several books on the Civil War (Beneath a Northern Sky; A Scythe of Fire; etc.), corrects this oversight in what is arguably the best one-volume history written to date of a Civil War field army. Combining impeccable scholarship and comfortable style, Woodworth describes a force whose tone was set by volunteer regiments from the farms and small towns of the Mississippi Valley: Iowa, Illinois, Missouri. Already accustomed to hard work and rough living, these men readily learned how to march and fight. Though Woodworth credits the army's unique combination of steadiness and aggressiveness to its first commander, Ulysses S. Grant, he details how the Army of the Tennessee learned war from other masters as well: West Point graduates, like William Sherman and James McPherson; civilian corps commanders, like "Black Jack" Logan and Frank Blair; and hundreds of field and company officers who learned their craft on the job and who led by example rather than by order. They made the Army of the Tennessee the Union's whiplash in the West and one of the three or four most formidable large formations in America's military history." - Publishers Weekly

Days of Glory The Army of the Cumberland, 1861-1865 by Larry J. Daniel by Larry J. Daniel (not read)
"A potent fighting force that changed the course of the Civil War, the Army of the Cumberland was the North’s second-most-powerful army, surpassed in size only by the Army of the Potomac. Though the Army of the Cumberland engaged the enemy across five times more territory with one-third to one-half fewer men than the Army of the Potomac, its achievements in the western theater rivaled those of the larger eastern army. The Cumberland distinguished itself courageously and against enormous odds at the Battle of Stones River and at Chickamauga and in sterling performances at Shiloh, Perryville, Missionary Ridge, Resaca, New Hope Church, and Peachtree Creek. The renowned Civil War historian Larry J. Daniel brings his analytical and descriptive skills to bear on the Cumberlanders in the first complete study of the army since 1870." - Publisher

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Thank you for these adds Aussie Rick.

message 5: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) A new book just released that may interest students of the Civil War in this theatre is; "Columbus, Georgia, 1865: The Last True Battle of the Civil War" by Charles A. Misulia.

Columbus, Georgia, 1865 The Last True Battle of the Civil War by Charles A. Misulia by Charles A. Misulia
"A lean, well-written, compelling narrative of the Battle of Columbus, Georgia. It begins with the larger context of James H. Wilson's massive cavalry campaign through Alabama and Georgia in the waning days of the war, and carries the story through the destruction of Columbus by Wilson's troops in the aftermath of the battle on April 16, 1865. It is so detailed, deeply researched, and meticulous that I feel completely confident in declaring that it will be the definitive account of this battle.'" - Lawrence F. Kohl

message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
This looks like a very interesting book Aussie usual some wonderful adds.

message 7: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Thank you Bentley, I've decided that I must have a copy of this book so have just ordered it :)

message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
I can't stop will have to have your family move out so that you have more room for your books. (smile)

message 9: by 'Aussie Rick' (last edited Sep 01, 2010 08:40PM) (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Here is an older publication (1992) covering the battles of Spring Hill, Franklin and Nashville with Confederate forces under John Bell Hood battling through Tennessee.

The Confederacy's Last Hurrah Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville (Modern War Studies) by Wiley Sword by Wiley Sword

message 10: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) This new book covers the Union cavalry raid into the Confederacy in the last stages of the Civil War; "Stoneman's Raid, 1865" by Chris J. Hartley.

Stoneman's Raid, 1865 by Chris J. Hartley by Chris J. Hartley
Publishers blurb:
In the spring of 1865, Federal major general George Stoneman launched a cavalry raid deep into the heart of the Confederacy. Over the next two months, Stoneman's cavalry rode across six Southern states, fighting fierce skirmishes and destroying supplies and facilities. When the raid finally ended, Stoneman's troopers had brought the Civil War home to dozens of communities that had not seen it up close before. In the process, the cavalrymen pulled off one of the longest cavalry raids in U.S. military history.

Despite its geographic scope, Stoneman's 1865 raid failed in its primary goal of helping to end the war. Instead, the destruction the raiders left behind slowed postwar recovery in the areas it touched. In their wake, the raiders left a legacy that resonates to this day, even in modern popular music such as The Band's ''The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.''

Based on exhaustive research in 34 repositories in 12 states and from more than 200 books and newspapers, Hartley's book tells the complete story of Stoneman's 1865 raid for the first time.

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Thank you for the adds Aussie Rick.

message 12: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Here is another new release covering the Battle of Atlanta; "The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta" by Gary Ecelbarger.

The Day Dixie Died The Battle of Atlanta by Gary Ecelbarger by Gary Ecelbarger
Publisher blurb:
One of the most dramatic and important battles ever to be waged on American soil, the Battle of Atlanta changed the course of the Civil War and helped decide a presidential election.

In the North, a growing peace movement and increasing criticism of President Abraham Lincoln’s conduct of the war threatened to halt U.S. war efforts to save the Union. On the morning of July 22, 1864, Confederate forces under the command of General John Bell Hood squared off against the Army of the Tennessee led by General James B. McPherson just southeast of Atlanta.

Having replaced General Joseph E. Johnston just four days earlier, Hood had been charged with the duty of reversing a Confederate retreat and meeting the Union army head on. The resulting Battle of Atlanta was a monstrous affair fought in the stifling Georgia summer heat. During it, a dreadful foreboding arose among the Northerners as the battle was undecided and dragged on for eight interminable hours. Hood’s men tore into U.S. forces with unrelenting assault after assault. Furthermore, for the first and only time during the war, a U.S. army commander was killed in battle, and in the wake of his death, the Union army staggered. Dramatically, General John “Black Jack” Logan stepped into McPherson’s command, rallied the troops, and grimly fought for the rest of the day. In the end, ten thousand men---one out of every six---became casualties on that fateful day, but the Union lines had held.

Having survived the incessant onslaught from the men in grey, Union forces then placed the city of Atlanta under siege, and the city’s inevitable fall would gain much-needed, positive publicity for Lincoln’s reelection campaign against the peace platform of former Union general George B. McClellan.

Renowned Civil War historian Gary Ecelbarger is in his element here, re-creating the personal and military dramas lived out by generals and foot soldiers alike, and shows how the battle was the game-changing event in the larger Atlanta Campaign and subsequent March to the Sea that brought an eventual end to the bloodiest war in American history. This is gripping military history at its best and a poignant narrative of the day Dixie truly died.

"Although not a Gettysburg-style showstopper, the middling-sized (about 10,000 casualties) 1864 battle of Atlanta emerges as one of the Civil War's more dramatic engagements in this vivid recreation. Historian Ecelbarger (The Great Comeback) chronicles the daylong onslaught by Confederate general John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee against the Union Army of the Tennessee, the left wing of Sherman's forces. Hood's intricate, audacious attack sent a long right hook around the Union flank and made for a bloody clash of charges and countercharges, with Yankees hopping back and forth across their trench line to fend off almost simultaneous attacks from front and rear. Ecelbarger lingers on the carnage ("Yankee lead tore into Rebel bodies, snapping bones, severing blood vessels. and piercing vital organs"), but his lucid narrative (embellished with excellent maps) doesn't let gore obscure the battle's larger shape. He also perceptively emphasizes the importance of personal leadership in a confused and volatile fight that felled a roster of generals, from Army of the Tennessee commander James McPherson to Southern officers whose loss befuddled and demoralized the Confederate assault. Ecelbarger paints a fine, panorama of a seldom-sung but rousing epic." - Publishers Weekly

message 13: by Tom (new)

Tom Recent book that looks interesting:

The Civil War in Mississippi Major Campaigns and Battles (Heritage of Mississippi) by Michael B. Ballard by Michael B. Ballard

from amazon:

From the first Union attack on Vicksburg in the spring of 1862 through Benjamin Grierson's last raid through Mississippi in late 1864 and early 1865, this book traces the campaigns, fighting, and causes and effects of armed conflict in central and North Mississippi, where major campaigns were waged and fighting occurred.

The Civil War in Mississippi: Major Campaigns and Battles will be a must-read for any Mississippian or Civil War buff who wants the complete story of the Civil War in Mississippi. It discusses the key military engagements in chronological order. It begins with a prologue covering mobilization and other events leading up to the first military action within the state's borders. The book then covers all of the major military operations, including the campaign for and siege of Vicksburg, and battles at Iuka and Corinth, Meridian, Brice's Crossroads, and Tupelo. The colorful cast of characters includes such household names as Sherman, Grant, Pemberton, and Forrest, as well as a host of other commanders and soldiers. Author Michael B. Ballard discusses at length minority troops and others glossed over or lost in studies of the Mississippi military during the war.

message 14: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Good post Tom, it looks like an interesting book. I expect to see quite a few new releases out this year with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

The Civil War in Mississippi Major Campaigns and Battles (Heritage of Mississippi) by Michael B. Ballard by Michael B. Ballard

message 15: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Another book due out soon that is part of a series covering the Civil War in this region is: "Thunder Across the Swamp: The Fight for the Lower Mississippi, February-May 1863" by Donald S. Frazier.

Thunder Across the Swamp The Fight for the Lower Mississippi, February-May 1863 by Dr. Donald S. Frazier by Dr. Donald S. Frazier
Echoes from the Battle of Galveston had barely faded before a new Federal offensive began rolling down the banks of the Mississippi River. General Ulysses S. Grant, intent on reducing the Confederate citadel at Vicksburg, began looking for ways to reduce the fortress and return control of the mightiest of American rivers to northern control. Downstream in New Orleans, General Nathaniel P. Banks received orders to cooperate however he could in this effort, but faced challenges of his own, blocked by the Confederate bastion at Port Hudson. The problem facing Union war planners seemed nearly intractable.
Both of these Confederate positions had key vulnerabilities. Both garrisons depended heavily on supplies thrown across the Mississippi from sources in Louisiana and Texas, and the task fell to the United States Navy to cut off this stream of cattle and corn. The ensuing campaign to interdict these rations turned into one of the most massive raids in Civil War history, involving tens of thousands of Union foot soldiers and cavalry and scores of warships and transports, plunging Louisiana into the pit of a destructive war that wrecked everything in its path. When General Banks launched his campaign up Bayou Teche and the Atchafalaya River in Louisiana, Confederates in the region faced the greatest challenge yet to their claims of independence and experienced for the first time the true devastation of war and the consequences of rebellion.
Thunder Across the Swamp: The Fight for the Lower Mississippi, February–May 1863 is the second of the four books in Donald S. Frazier’s highly acclaimed Louisiana Quadrille. In this fast-paced narrative, readers ride along with gunboat skippers in duels along the Mississippi, trot along with cavalrymen as they slash their way through enemy lines, experience the dust and confusion of infantry assaults, and mourn with Louisiana, Texas, and New England families that watch their property and families destroyed by civil war. Most students of this national calamity may believe they know well the campaigns on the Mississippi; Thunder Across the Swamp promises to fill in the less well-known story of the fight to control the west bank during the crucial campaigns of 1863.

"Don writes well and has done a tremendous amount of research in primary and secondary sources. This work fills a large void in the literature of the Civil War and describes events that either have not received adequate coverage in the past or have not appeared before in print." - Arthur W. Bergeron, Jr., Ph.D.

"Thunder Across the Swamp displays outstanding narrative skills, superb scholarship, and contains a wide ranging use of previously unpublished primary sources from both Union and Confederate viewpoints. Anyone with a desire to know more about the much neglected portion of the Civil War in Louisiana west of the Mississippi River in early 1863 should read this book. It will be exceptionally valuable to scholars, as well as more casual readers of the War in the West." - Gary D. Joiner, Ph.D.

"Thunder Across the Swamp: The Fight for the Lower Mississippi, February-May 1863 is a powerful story of an aspect of the Civil War that has until this time received little attention from scholars. This book is an original and significant contribution to understanding the strategic importance of the struggle for control of Louisiana near the confluence of the Red and Mississippi rivers. It fills a void in an otherwise neglected historical account, overshadowed at the time by the Union campaign against Vicksburg. Although the author is writing about little-known events that cover only a few months, he paints a picture of war on the river that is readable, human, and backed by detailed research. He tells a fascinating story with skill and grace; the elegance of the writing makes the events come alive and allow, what might be considered unimportant actions, seem vital. At a time when Ulysses S. Grant was moving against Vicksburg and Robert E. Lee was planning his invasion of Pennsylvania, it is understandable that these military actions drew little attention in comparison. What the author has done is to breathe life into the war on the Mississippi below Vicksburg." Anne J. Bailey, Ph.D.

For those who missed the first book in the series:

Fire in the Cane Field The Federal Invasion of Louisiana and Texas, January 1861-January 1863 by Donald S. Frazier by Donald S. Frazier

message 16: by Tom (new)

Tom The Vicksburg campaign was important. The lessons learned there shaped future tactics by the men who fought there. In it opinions of Grant grew and led to him going east and commanding the actions there.

I just complete reading Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi by Michael B. Ballard. The book covers Vicksburg before and after the war and the campaigns leading to its surrender, then touches on the armies and men after the surrender. The book is rich in anecdotes and tales that provide color and detail to the events taking place, and also make the book a joy to read. The descriptions of destruction done by the forces are difficult to imagine. Guerrilla fighters are mentioned many times but without much detail, like the weather. It left me wanting more information on them, but probably best reserved for another book. Likewise spies are mentioned in passing. It could use more and better maps, I think that this could be said about most history books. Unfortunately, I found myself consulting other sources to gather a better understanding of the action taking place, when a good map or picture would have helped.

Overall a good book that really I enjoyed reading.

Vicksburg The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi (Civil War America) by Michael B. Ballard by Michael B. Ballard

message 17: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Hi Tom,

Thanks for the review and information on "Vicksburg", I better try and find some time to read my copy! Are you reading anything else covering the Civil War?

Vicksburg The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi (Civil War America) by Michael B. Ballard by Michael B. Ballard

message 18: by Tom (last edited Apr 22, 2011 05:44PM) (new)

Tom Not currently reading anything else on the civil war. These are high on my reading list:

Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy Guerrilla Warfare in the West, 1861-1865 by Richard S. Brownlee Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy: Guerrilla Warfare in the West, 1861-1865
by Richard S. Brownlee

Landscape Turned Red The Battle of Antietam by Stephen W. Sears Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam
by Stephen W. Sears Stephen W. Sears

The Bonfire The Siege and Burning of Atlanta by Marc Wortman The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta
by Marc Wortman

In my reading I like to bounce around in time periods a bit from book to book. Hopefully i will get to all these by the end of summer. I have a few others on the civil war that I will get to at some point, including some more Vicksburg books.

message 19: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Hi Tom,

"Landscape Turned Red" by Stephen Sears was one of the first books that I read on Antietan and I still rank it in the top ten Civil War books. It's an excellent read so I hope you enjoy it when you get the chance to read it.

I also have a copy of "Bonfire" to read in my library, too many books so little time!

Landscape Turned Red The Battle of Antietam by Stephen W. Sears by Stephen W. Sears

The Bonfire The Siege and Burning of Atlanta by Marc Wortman by Marc Wortman

message 20: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig I love Stephen W. Sears Stephen W. Sears. His writes very well, includes good maps, and keeps you riveted.

message 21: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Yes, he is great.

message 22: by Doug (new)

Doug DePew (dougdepew) | 33 comments Tom wrote: "Not currently reading anything else on the civil war. These are high on my reading list:

Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy Guerrilla Warfare in the West, 1861-1865 by Richard S. Brownlee Gray Ghosts..."

I just read that a few months ago. It's great! I believe I have a review on Amazon for it that I'll probably move to Goodreads when I get a chance.

message 23: by Tom (new)

Tom We are talking about a buddy read in September of "The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta" by Marc Wortman if interested.

The Bonfire The Siege and Burning of Atlanta by Marc Wortman The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta
by Marc Wortman

Review from (link)
Marc Wortman hasn’t so much written a book about the siege and burning of Atlanta as he has written a history of Atlanta covering approximately fifty years from its founding until its surrender to the army of William Tecumseh Sherman and its ultimate destruction. In doing so he has won the award for the most misleading book title of 2009, for his is not a book solely focused on “The Siege and Burning of Atlanta.” A full third of the book passes by before Mr. Wortman comes to the outbreak of the Civil War, and nearly another third of the book passes by before his narrative makes its way to the Atlanta Campaign, the siege of the city, its surrender and burning.

What Mr. Wortman has done very well is given us a very detailed look at the history of Atlanta, seen through the eyes of its citizens; its wartime mayor, James Montgomery Calhoun (a first cousin once removed of Senator and United States Vice President John C. Calhoun), Mrs. Cyrena Stone a diarist with Union sympathies, and Robert Gadsby, a slave in title only, who may or may not have been the illegitimate son of Daniel Webster. It is interesting that Mr. Wortman chose three Atlantans with Unionist leanings as the main characters in a book about the siege and burning of Atlanta; Margaret Mitchell’s Atlanta, this isn’t.

The military history of the Atlanta Campaign, the siege of the city, its surrender and burning, have taken a backseat in Mr. Wortman’s tome. Despite its title the siege and burning of Atlanta are not the main focus of this book. It’s narrative, rather, is driven by Atlanta’s Unionist inhabitants, which in and of itself is worthy of study. But in a book with a title, “The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta,” one would expect to find a book solely dedicated to military operations instead of only a third of its 361 pages of text.

Mr. Wortman’s book is well researched and written in an easily read style. It transitions easily from topic to topic, giving the book a nice narrative flow. “The Bonfire” is a great bargain for the book buyer, as it is several books all rolled up into one; a history of Georgia, the Indian removal (The Trail of Tears), the founding of Atlanta, an abbreviated genealogy of the Calhoun family, a biography of Robert Gadsby, and a history of the campaign for Atlanta, its siege and burning.

message 24: by Nicole (new)

Nicole I found this book due out at the end of the month.

Born to Battle: Grant and Forrest--Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga

Born to Battle Grant and Forrest--Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga by Jack Hurst byJack Hurst(no photo)

Born to Battle examines the Civil War’s complex and decisive western theater through the exploits of its greatest figures, Ulysses S. Grant and Nathan Bedford Forrest. These two opposing giants squared off in some of the most epic campaigns of the war, starting at Shiloh and continuing through Perryville, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga—battles in which the Union would slowly but surely divide the western Confederacy, setting the stage for the final showdowns of the bloody, protracted conflict.

Grant is widely regarded as the man most responsible for winning the war for the Union, Forrest as the Confederacy’s most fearsome defender in the West. Both men had risen through their respective hierarchies thanks to their cunning and military brilliance, and despite their checkered pasts. Grant and Forrest were both lower”-born officers who struggled to overcome particular, dubious reputations (Forrest’s as a semi-literate rustic and Grant’s as a doltish drunkard).

In time, however each became renowned for his intelligence, resourcefulness, and grit. Indeed, as Hurst shows, their familiarity with hardship gave both men a back-against-the-wall mindset that would ultimately determine their success—both on the battlefield, and off it.

Beginning with the Union victory at Tennessee’s Fort Donelson in February 1862 (when Grant handed the Union the largest force ever captured on American soil, refurbishing his reputation and earning himself the nickname (Unconditional Surrender Grant”), Hurst follows both men through the campaigns of the next twenty months, showing how this critical period—and these two unequaled leaders—would change the course of the war. Again and again, Grant’s hardscrabble tactics saved Federal forces from the disastrous decisions of his fellow commanders, who seemed unable to think outside of the West Point playbook. Just as often, Forrest’s hot temper and wily, frontier know-how would surprise his Federal adversaries and allow him to claim astonishing victories on behalf of the Confederacy. But as Grant pressed south and east over the course of these twenty months, routing Confederate forces at such critical strongholds as Corinth, Vicksburg (Gibraltar of the Mississippi”), and Chattanooga, the systemic differences between the North and South began to tell.

The more inclusive, meritocratic Union allowed Grant to enter into the military’s halls of decision, whereas the proudly aristocratic Confederate high command barred Forrest from contributing his input. As Hurst vividly demonstrates, that disparity affected, and possibly dictated, the war’s outcome. Thoroughly disgusted with his disdainful superiors and their failure to save his home state of Tennessee from the clutches of the Union, Forrest eventually requested a transfer to a backwater theater of the war. Grant, by contrast, won command of the entire Union army following his troops’ stunning performance at Chattanooga, and would go on to lead the North to victory over the forces of another exceptional Southern general: Robert E. Lee.

An utterly American tale about class, merit, and their role in one of the most formative wars in the nation’s history, Born to Battle offers an impassioned account of two visionary Civil War leaders and the clashing cultures they fought—in some cases, quite ironically—to protect. Hurst shows how Grant and Forrest brought to the battlefield the fabled virtues of the American working-class: hard work, ingenuity, and intense determination. Each man’s background contributed to his triumphs on the battlefield, but the open-mindedness of his fellow commanders proved just as important. When the North embraced Grant, it won a stalwart defender. When the South rejected Forrest, by contrast, it sealed its fate.

message 25: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Oooh, very nice, I will have to add this to my TBR pile. Early on, I never really followed the western theater, captivated by Lee, but now, the west is just as interesting.

message 26: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Here is another book on Vicksburg:

Vicksburg Is the Key: The Struggle for the Mississippi River

Vicksburg Is the Key The Struggle for the Mississippi River by William L. Shea William L. Shea


The struggle for control of the Mississippi River was the longest and most complex campaign of the Civil War. It was marked by an extraordinary diversity of military and naval operations, including fleet engagements, cavalry raids, amphibious landings, pitched battles, and the two longest sieges in American history. Every existing type of naval vessel, from sailing ship to armored ram, played a role, and military engineers practiced their art on a scale never before witnessed in modern warfare. Union commanders such as Grant, Sherman, Farragut, and Porter demonstrated the skills that would take them to the highest levels of command. When the immense contest finally reached its climax at Vicksburg and Port Hudson in the summer of 1863, the Confederacy suffered a blow from which it never recovered. Here was the true turning point of the Civil War.

This fast-paced, gripping narrative of the Civil War struggle for the Mississippi River is the first comprehensive single-volume account to appear in over a century. Vicksburg Is the Key: The Struggle for the Mississippi River tells the story of the series of campaigns the Union conducted on land and water to conquer Vicksburg and of the many efforts by the Confederates to break the siege of the fortress. William L. Shea and Terrence J. Winschel present the unfolding drama of the campaign in a clear and readable style, correct historic myths along the way, and examine the profound strategic effects of the eventual Union victory.

message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Great adds Bryan and Nicole

message 28: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig The Army of Tennessee

The Army of Tennessee by Stanley Fitzgerald Horn by Stanley Fitzgerald Horn (no photo)


Nowhere in the annals of United States military history is there a more tragic, yet valorous, story than that of the Army of Tennessee. Unlike its companion fighting unit, the Army of Northern Virginia which was commanded throughout the Civil War by one of the great military figures of all time, Robert E. Lee, the history of the Army of Tennessee is one of ever-changing commanders, of bickering and wrangling among its leaders, and a discouraging succession of disappointments and might-have-beens.

message 29: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig For those who have twitter accounts and enjoy the U.S. Civil War, the Civil War Trust is tweeting the Battle of Chickamauga:

It is a very cool use of twitter. Enjoy.

message 30: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The devastating march to the sea by General William Sherman still causes much controversy to the older citizens of the old South. This is an in-depth and well researched story of that campaign.

Sherman's March to the Sea 1864

Sherman's March to the Sea 1864 Atlanta to Savannah by David Smith by David Smith (No photo)


The March to the Sea was the culmination of Union General William T. Sherman's 1864 campaign during the American Civil War (1861-1865) and was a devastating example of "total war." Confederate hopes in 1864 hinged on frustrating Union forces in the field and forcing Abraham Lincoln out of office in the November elections. However, this optimism was dampened by Sherman's success in the battle of Atlanta that same year.

Riding on the wave of this victory, Sherman hoped to push his forces into Confederate territory, but his plan was hindered by a Confederate threat to the army's supply lines.
After much delay, he boldly chose to abandon these, forcing the army to live off the land for the entirety of the 285-mile march to Savannah, destroying all war-making capabilities of the enemy en route, and inflicting suffering not only on Confederate troops, but also on the civilian population. Despite the vilification that this brutal tactic earned him, the march was a success.

Supported by contemporary photographs, detailed maps, bird's eye views, and battlescene artwork, this title explores the key personalities, strategies, and significant engagements of the march, including the battles of Franklin and Nashville, and the ultimate fall of Savannah to the Union, to provide a detailed analysis of the campaign that marked the "beginning of the end" of the American Civil War.

message 31: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4301 comments Mod
The Mississippi River Campaign, 1861-1863: The Struggle for Control of the Western Waters

The Mississippi River Campaign, 1861-1863 The Struggle for Control of the Western Waters by Benton Rain Patterson by Benton Rain Patterson (no photo)


Telling the story of the Civil War's Mississippi River Campaign through the experiences of leading officers, ordinary soldiers, and civilians, this book explains how the river campaign came to be one of the key tenets of the Union's strategy and a fundamental contributor to the war's ultimate outcome. It describes the Union's drive down the Mississippi River from Cairo, Illinois, the drive up the river from the Gulf of Mexico, and the capturing of key cities and rebel fortifications along the way, including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Memphis, Vicksburg, and finally, Port Hudson, Louisiana. The text is supplemented with 24 historical photographs from the Library of Congress and the National Archives.

message 32: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4301 comments Mod
The Civil War in the American West

The Civil War in the American West by Alvin M. Josephy Jr. by Alvin M. Josephy Jr. (no photo)


As most Americans of the 1860s fixed their attention on the battlefields of Shiloh and Manassas, another war raged on the largely unsettled Western frontier. This splendid work by the author of The Patriot Chiefs restores this "other" Civil War to its true, epic proportions. With formidable scholarship and irresistible narrative ease, Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., tells of the Yankee armada that foundered in the Louisiana bayous; of the bloody fighting on the ridges and prairies of the border states. where a Cherokee guerrilla leader was the last Confederate general to surrender -- two months after Appomattox: and of the U.S. Army's brutal campaigns against the Plains Indians in theaters as far apart as Minnesota and Colorado.

message 33: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4301 comments Mod
Decision in the Heartland: The Civil War in the West

Decision in the Heartland The Civil War in the West by Steven E. Woodworth by Steven E. Woodworth (no photo)


The verdict is in: the Civil War was won in the West--that is, in the nation's heartland, between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. Yet, a person who follows the literature on the war might still think that it was the conflict in Virginia that ultimately decided the outcome. Each year sees the appearance of new books aimed at the popular market that simply assume that it was in the East, often at Gettysburg, that the decisive clashes of the war took place. For decades, serious historians of the Civil War have completed one careful study after another, nearly all tending to indicate the pivotal importance of what people during the war referred to as the West. In this fast paced overview, Woodworth presents his case for the decisiveness of the theater.

Overwhelming evidence now indicates that it was battles like Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Chattanooga, and Atlanta that sealed the fate of the Confederacy-not the nearly legendary clashes at Bull Run or Chancellorsville or the mythical high-water mark at Gettysburg. The western campaigns cost the Confederacy vast territories, the manufacturing center of Nashville, the financial center of New Orleans, communications hubs such as Corinth, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, along with the agricultural produce of the breadbasket of the Confederacy. They sapped the morale of Confederates and buoyed the spirits of Unionists, ultimately sealing the northern electorate's decision to return Lincoln to the presidency for a second term and thus to see the war through to final victory. Detailing the Western clashes that proved so significant, Woodworth contends that it was there alone that the Civil War could be--and was--decided.

message 34: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4301 comments Mod
The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi

The Civil War in the West Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi by Earl J. Hess by Earl J. Hess (no photo)


The Western theater of the Civil War, rich in agricultural resources and manpower and home to a large number of slaves, stretched 600 miles north to south and 450 miles east to west from the Appalachians to the Mississippi. If the South lost the West, there would be little hope of preserving the Confederacy. Earl J. Hess's comprehensive study of how Federal forces conquered and held the West examines the geographical difficulties of conducting campaigns in a vast land, as well as the toll irregular warfare took on soldiers and civilians alike. Hess balances a thorough knowledge of the battle lines with a deep understanding of what was happening within the occupied territories.

In addition to a mastery of logistics, Union victory hinged on making use of black manpower and developing policies for controlling constant unrest while winning campaigns. Effective use of technology, superior resource management, and an aggressive confidence went hand in hand with Federal success on the battlefield. In the end, Confederates did not have the manpower, supplies, transportation potential, or leadership to counter Union initiatives in this critical arena.

message 35: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4301 comments Mod
Jefferson Davis and His Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West

Jefferson Davis and His Generals The Failure of Confederate Command in the West by Steven E. Woodworth by Steven E. Woodworth (no photo)


Jefferson Davis is a historical figure who provokes strong passions among scholars. Through the years historians have place him at both ends of the spectrum: some have portrayed him as a hero, others have judged him incompetent. In Jefferson Davis and his Generals, Steven Woodworth aims to show that both extremes are accurate - Davis was both heroic and incompetent. Yet neither viewpoint reveals the whole truth about this complicated figure. Woodworth's portrait of Davis reveals an experienced, talented, and courageous leader who, nevertheless, undermined the Confederacy's cause in the trans-Appalachian west, where the South lost the war.

message 36: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4301 comments Mod
Mr. Lincoln's Brown Water Navy: The Mississippi Squadron

Mr. Lincoln's Brown Water Navy The Mississippi Squadron by Gary Joiner by Gary D. Joiner (no photo)


The Union inland navy that became the Mississippi Squadron is one of the greatest, yet least studied aspects of the Civil War. Without it, however, the war in the West may not have been won, and the war in the East might have lasted much longer and perhaps ended differently. The men who formed and commanded this large fighting force have, with few exceptions, not been as thoroughly studied as their army counterparts. The vessels they created were highly specialized craft which operated in the narrow confines of the Western rivers in places that could not otherwise receive fire support.

Ironclads and gunboats protected army forces and convoyed much needed supplies to far-flung Federal forces. They patrolled thousands of miles of rivers and fought battles that were every bit as harrowing as land engagements yet inside iron monsters that created stifling heat with little ventilation. This book is about the intrepid men who fought under these conditions and the highly improvised boats in which they fought. The tactics their commanders developed were the basis for many later naval operations. Of equal importance were lessons learned about what not to do. The flag officers and admirals of the Mississippi Squadron wrote the rules for modern riverine warfare.

message 37: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4301 comments Mod
Vicksburg, 1863

Vicksburg, 1863 by Winston Groom by Winston Groom Winston Groom


While Gettysburg is better known, Winston Groom makes clear in this engrossing narrative that Vicksburg was the more important battle from a strategic point of view. Re-creating the epic campaign that culminated at Vicksburg, Groom details the arduous struggle by the Union to gain control of the Mississippi River valley and to divide the Confederacy in two. He takes us back to 1861, when Lincoln chooses Ulysses S. Grant—seen at the time as a mediocre general with a drinking problem—to lead the Union army south from Illinois.

We follow Grant and his troops as they fight one campaign after another, including the famous engagements at Forts Henry and Donelson and the bloodbath at Shiloh, until, after almost a year, they close in on Vicksburg. We witness Grant’s seven long months of battle against the determined Confederate army, and the many failed Union attempts to take Vicksburg, during which thousands of soldiers on both sides would be buried and, ultimately, the fate of the Confederacy would be sealed. As Groom recounts this landmark confrontation, he brings the participants to life. We see Grant in all his grim determination, the feistiness of William Tecumseh Sherman, and the pride and intransigence of Confederate leaders from Jefferson Davis and General Joseph E. Johnston to General John C. Pemberton, the Philadelphia-born Rebel who commanded at Vicksburg and took the blame for losing.

A first-rate work of military history and an essential contribution to our understanding of the Civil War.

message 38: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Thank you Jerome

message 39: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4301 comments Mod
Six Armies in Tennessee: The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns

Six Armies in Tennessee The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns by Steven E. Woodworth by Steven E. Woodworth (no photo)


When Vicksburg fell to Union forces under General Grant in July 1863, the balance turned against the Confederacy in the trans-Appalachian theater. The Federal success along the river opened the way for advances into central and eastern Tennessee, which culminated in the bloody battle of Chickamauga and then a struggle for Chattanooga. Chickamauga is usually counted as a Confederate victory, albeit a costly one. That battle—indeed the entire campaign—is marked by muddle and blunders occasionally relieved by strokes of brilliant generalship and high courage. The campaign ended significant Confederate presence in Tennessee and left the Union poised to advance upon Atlanta and the Confederacy on the brink of defeat in the western theater.

message 40: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4301 comments Mod
An upcoming book:
Release date: June 6, 2016

The Civil War on the Mississippi: Union Sailors, Gunboat Captains, and the Campaign to Control the River

The Civil War on the Mississippi Union Sailors, Gunboat Captains, and the Campaign to Control the River by Barbara Brooks Tomblin by Barbara Brooks Tomblin (no photo)


Flowing from its source in northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River borders or passes through ten different states and serves as one of the most important transportation systems in the United States. During the Civil War, both sides believed that whoever controlled the river would ultimately be victorious. Cotton exports generated much-needed revenue for the Confederacy, and the Mississippi was also the main conduit for the delivery of materials and food. Similarly, the Union sought to maintain safe passage from St. Louis, Missouri, to Cairo, Illinois, but also worked to bisect the South by seizing the river as part of the Anaconda Plan.

Drawing heavily on the diaries and letters of officers and common sailors, Barbara Brooks Tomblin explores the years during which the Union navy fought to win control of the Mississippi. Her approach provides fresh insight into major battles such as Memphis and Vicksburg, but also offers fascinating perspectives on lesser-known aspects of the conflict from ordinary sailors engaged in brown-water warfare. These men speak of going ashore in foraging parties, assisting the surgeon in the amputation of a fellow crewman's arm, and liberating supplies of whiskey from captured enemy vessels. They also offer candid assessments of their commanding officers, observations of the local people living along the river, and their views on the war. The Civil War on the Mississippi not only provides readers with a comprehensive and vivid account of the action on the western rivers; it also offers an incredible synthesis of first-person accounts from the front lines.

message 41: by Dimitri (new)

Dimitri | 600 comments Jerome wrote: "Six Armies in Tennessee: The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns

Six Armies in Tennessee The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns by Steven E. Woodworth by Steven E. Woodworth (no..."

Hmm... could this title be a wink to Keegan's "Six armies in Normandy" ?

message 42: by Francie (new)

Francie Grice Dimitri, remember your citation format for the book you mentioned. Please correct as below:

Six Armies in Normandy From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris; June 6 - Aug. 5, 1944 by John Keegan by John Keegan John Keegan

message 43: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Into the Mouth of the Cannon: A Historical Biography of the 18th Arkansas Infantry and the Civil War in the Western Theater from 1861 to 1863

Into the Mouth of the Cannon A Historical Biography of the 18th Arkansas Infantry and the Civil War in the Western Theater from 1861 to 1863 by Robert Edward Reynolds by Robert Edward Reynolds (no photo)


Because of Union victories at Fort Donaldson and Fort Henry, the outer perimeter of defenses that protected western and middle Tennessee left the city of Memphis, Tennessee exposed to Union attack by river. After Grant's victory at Shiloh the Confederate forces would concentrate their strength along the Ohio and Mobile Railroad in northern Mississippi. The disastrous defeat of General Earl Van Dorn at Corinth, Mississippi left the door wide open for a union victory at Vicksburg and the fall of her sister fortress at Port Hudson, Louisiana. The Mississippi River represents the jugular vein of the South. The capture of New Orleans by Admiral Farrago effectively shut commerce that the South depended upon. The northern strategist fully recognized that the control of the Mississippi and her tributaries would prevent any Southern expansion into Missouri and Kentucky. The 18th Arkansas infantry played a role in the defense of both the upper and lower Mississippi River. This is their story.

message 44: by Teri (new)

Teri (teriboop) Wilsons Cavalry Corps: Union Campaigns in the Western Theatre, October 1864 Through Spring 1865

Wilson's Cavalry Corps Union Campaigns in the Western Theatre, October 1864 through Spring 1865 by Jerry Keenan by Jerry Keenan (no photo)


The famed fighting force of Union General William T. Sherman was plagued by a lack of first-rate cavalry--mostly because of Sherman's belief, after some bad experiences, that the cavalry was largely a waste of good horses. The man Grant sent to change Sherman's mind was James Harrison Wilson, a bright, ambitious, and outspoken young officer with a penchant for organization.

Wilson proved the perfect man for the job, transforming a collection of independent regiments and brigades into a fiercely effective mounted unit. Wilson's Cavalry, as it came to be known, played a major role in thwarting Confederate General Hood's 1864 invasion of Tennessee, then moved south for the celebrated capture of Selma, Montgomery, and Columbus. Despite such success, it is this book that is the first overall history of the Cavalry Corps. In addition to meticulous description of military actions, the book affords particular attention to Wilson's outstanding achievement in creating an infrastructure for his corps, even as he covered the Federal flanks in the withdrawal to Franklin and Nashville.

message 45: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The Civil War in the Western Theater: 1862

The Civil War in the Western Theater 1862 The U.S. Army Campaigns of the Civil War by Charles R. Bowery Jr. by Charles Bowery (no photo)


The contest for the Western Theater in 1862 was monumental in scope and importance. Containing an area of about 230,000 square miles—roughly the size of France—the Western Theater extended from the Appalachian Mountains in the east to the Mississippi River in the west, and from the Ohio River in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south. Seven states—Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, eastern Louisiana, and western Florida—lay within its boundaries. The region was vital to the Confederacy. Not only was it rich in human and agricultural resources, but it also contained the Confederacy’s largest city (New Orleans, Louisiana), important ports (New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama), and critical industrial and railroad centers (Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia).

message 46: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Chickamauga 1863: The River of Death

Chickamauga 1863 The river of death by James Arnold by James Arnold (no photo)


An examination of the battle at Chickamagua, one of the decisive campaigns of the American Civil War (1861-1865). By the Autumn of 1863 the Confederacy was in dire straits. In a colossal gamble, Confederate President Jefferson Davis stripped forces from all the major Confederate armies to reinforce the Army of Tennessee in a last ditch attempt to crush the Union. On 19th September the Confederates attacked the Union army along Chickamauga creek south of Chattanooga. On the second day of bloody fighting the entire Union right collapsed and the army retreated headlong for Chattanooga, all except General George H. Thomas' Corps who fought on doggedly until nightfall delaying the confederate advance, saving the Union and earning his fame as the "Rock of Chickamauga".

message 47: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Part of the trilogy by the famous Civil War scholar, Shelby Foote.

The Beleaguered City: The Vicksburg Campaign

The Beleaguered City The Vicksburg Campaign by Shelby Foote by Shelby Foote Shelby Foote


The companion volume to Stars in Their Courses, this marvelous account of Grant's siege of the Mississippi port of Vicksburg continues Foote's narrative of the great battles of the Civil War--culled from his massive three-volume history--recounting a campaign which Lincoln called "one of the most brilliant in the world".

message 48: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, Vol. 3: Essays on America’s Civil War

Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, Vol. 3 Essays on America’s Civil War by Lawrence Lee Hewitt by Lawrence Lee Hewitt (no photo)


The American Civil War was won and lost on its western battlefields, but accounts of triumphant Union generals such as Grant and Sherman leave half of the story untold.

In the third volume of Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, editors Lawrence Hewitt and Arthur Bergeron bring together ten more never-before-published essays filled with new, penetrating insights into the key question of why the Rebel high command in the West could not match the performance of Robert E. Lee in the East.

Showcasing the work of such gifted historians as Wiley Sword, Timothy B. Smith, Rory T. Cornish, and M. Jane Johansson, this book is a compelling addition to an ongoing, collective portrait of generals who occasionally displayed brilliance but were more often handicapped by both geography and their own shortcomings.

While the vast, varied terrain of the Western Theater slowed communications and troop transfers and led to the creation of too many military departments that hampered cooperation among commands, even more damaging were the personal qualities of many of the generals.

All too frequently, incompetence, egotism, and insubordination were the rule rather than the exception. Some of these men were undone by alcoholism and womanizing, others by politics and nepotism. A few outlived their usefulness; others were killed before they could demonstrate their potential. Together, they destroyed what chance the Confederacy had of winning its independence.

Whether adding fresh fuel to the debate over the respective roles of Albert Sidney Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard at Shiloh or bringing to light such lesser known figures as Joseph Finegan and Hiram Bronson Granbury, this volume, like the ones preceding it, is an exemplary contribution to Civil War scholarship.

About the Author:

Lawrence Lee Hewitt is professor of history emeritus at Southeastern Louisiana University.

A recipient of SLU’s President’s Award for Excellence in Research and the Charles L. Dufour Award for “outstanding achievements in preserving the heritage of the American Civil War,” he is a former managing editor of North & South. His publications include Port Hudson: Confederate Bastion on the Mississippi.

About the Author:

The late Arthur W. Bergeron Jr. was a reference historian with the United States Army Military History Institute and a past president of the Louisiana Historical Association. Among his earlier books were Confederate Mobile and A Thrilling Narrative: The Memoir of a Southern Unionist.

This is what the cover looks like even though it is not available on goodreads:

message 49: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (last edited Feb 20, 2020 10:02AM) (new)

Jerome | 4301 comments Mod
An upcoming book:
Release date: July 15, 2020

Defending the Arteries of Rebellion: Confederate Naval Operations in the Mississippi River Valley, 1861-1865

Defending the Arteries of Rebellion Confederate Naval Operations in the Mississippi River Valley, 1861-1865 by Neil P. Chatelain by Neil P. Chatelain (no photo)


Most studies of the Mississippi River focus on Union campaigns to open and control it, while overlooking Southern attempts to stop them. Neil Chatelain’s Defending the Arteries of Rebellion: Confederate Naval Operations in the Mississippi River Valley, 1861-1865 is the other side of the story—the first modern full-length treatment of inland naval operations from the Confederate perspective.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis realized the value of the Mississippi River and its entire valley, which he described as the “great artery of the Confederacy.” This was the key internal highway that controlled the fledgling nation’s transportation network. Davis and Stephen Mallory, his secretary of the navy, knew these vital logistical paths had to be held, and offered potential highways of invasion for Union warships and armies to stab their way deep into the heart of the Confederacy.

They planned to protect these arteries of rebellion by crafting a ring of powerful fortifications supported by naval forces. Different military branches, however, including the navy, marine corps, army, and revenue service, as well as civilian privateers and even state naval forces, competed for scarce resources to operate their own vessels. A lack of industrial capacity further complicated Confederate efforts and guaranteed the South’s grand vision of deploying dozens of river gunboats and powerful ironclads would never be fully realized.

Despite these limitations, the Southern war machine introduced numerous innovations and alternate defenses including the Confederacy’s first operational ironclad, the first successful use of underwater torpedoes, widespread use of army-navy joint operations, and the employment of extensive river obstructions. When the Mississippi River came under complete Union control in 1863, Confederate efforts shifted to the river’s many tributaries, where a bitter and deadly struggle ensued to control these internal lifelines. Despite a lack of ships, material, personnel, funding, and unified organization, the Confederacy fought desperately and scored many localized tactical victories—often won at great cost—but failed at the strategic level.

Chatelain, a former Navy Surface Warfare Officer, grounds his study in extensive archival and firsthand accounts, official records, and a keen understanding of terrain and geography. The result is a fast-paced, well-crafted, and endlessly fascinating account that is sure to please the most discriminating student of the Civil War.

message 50: by Wwkeeler (new)

Wwkeeler | 1 comments That sounds promising, especially since the book I'm on now is also set in the Western Theater.

« previous 1
back to top