Edited by Evan C. Jones and Wiley Sword
2014, Louisiana State University Press, 323pp., $39.95
Image Courtesy of amazon.com
Throughout the battles and campaigns of the Civil War which are studies, much attention is given to the battlefield of Gettysburg. A fact like this pointed out many times in the introduction of this collection of essays on Chickamauga and Chattanooga. Even before the creation of the Gettysburg National Military Park, these battlefields are more well preserved and more established than any other battlefield in the country. While not as written about as Gettysburg, this campaign has been ignored in the wake of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Chickamauga and Chattanooga are treated with distinction in this incredible collection of essays.
The two editors of the collection, Evan C. Jones and Wiley Sword, both contributed essays to the work and are no strangers of these battlefields. Evan C. Jones is a former National Park ranger who has spent a good amount of time at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park along with many other battlefields from the Civil War. Wiley Sword is an accomplished author and historian who has devoted his career to these campaigns. The other authors of this work include Russell S. Bonds, David A. Powell, Gerald J. Prokopowicz, William Glenn Robertson, Craig L. Symonds, Stephen Cushman and Caroline E. Janney. All of their contributions to this work have a short biography within the body of the book.
Gateway to the Confederacy is an important work for many reasons. First and foremost, it is a great introduction to the campaigns of Chickamauga and Chattanooga in both the years of 1862 and 1863. One essay talks about the 1862 campaign of Chattanooga which most people tend to forget about. The essay goes over many of the events which happened during that campaign but more important was the attention made to the politicking going on in the army for Don Carlos Buell in those actions. The book opens with an essay about the overall terrain of Chickamauga and Chattanooga and the importance the land had to the campaigns and the people who had settled there. The essay titled, “The Funnel of the Universe” explains in detail the industry which surrounded the area of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama and how Chattanooga was a large hub for this industry. Through these studies, one can see why Chickamauga and Chattanooga was the Gateway to the Confederacy and without it, the victories at both Gettysburg and Vicksburg would not have meant much of anything. Wiley Sword in his essay talks about the issues of arming slaves and the possibility of what could have happened if it became a reality. These essays are not only well written, they are thought provoking which exceeds expectations when it comes to the realm of Civil War academia.
Gateway to the Confederacy is highly recommended for any Civil War reader. This collection of essays is one of the better collections I have come across in the recent years. The input of both Evan C. Jones and Wiley Sword are greatly appreciated both in their editing and their essays. They are correct in stating that sometimes, Civil War historians tend to gravitate towards Gettysburg and Vicksburg because of their grandiose nature, and though not written about as much as Gettysburg, all the contributors give an excellent outlook onto the campaigns rarely talked about in the annals of Civil War history.