David A. Powell
Savas Beatie, 2015, 726 pp., $39.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
Every once and a while, there comes a series of books which redefine how we think of the engagement. While volumes have been dealt with concerning the Battle of Gettysburg or Antietam, there have been lesser works on the Battle of Chickamauga which left quite a bit to be desired for the Civil War student. Last year, a great series of books began by David A. Powell named The Chickamauga Campaign. The first in the series was The Chickamauga Campaign: A Mad Irregular Battle and gave an incredible detailed account from August 22nd to September 19th, 1863. The second in the series, Glory or the Grave, gives us a look into the action on September 20th.
David A. Powell is a graduate from the Virginia Military Institute of the Class of 1983 with a BA in History. The majority of his research and his passion has been the Chickamauga Campaign to which he has authored many articles in many different magazines along with publishing a few other works on the people and the battle itself. He has previously authored The Maps of Chickamauga; An Atlas of the Chickamauga Campaign, including the Tullahoma Operations, June 22 – September 23, 1863, and The Chickamauga Campaign: A Mad Irregular Battle. He was the recipient of the Atlanta Civil War Round Table Richard Barksdale Harwell Award in 2010 for Failure in the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joseph Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign.
Once again, Powell shows the breadth of his knowledge in this massive volume adding to the trilogy of works he is writing on the campaign. When I first read A Mad Irregular Battle, I was astounded by the amount of knowledge in the pages, but in Glory or the Grave, he continues to fill this large work with just as much information as the last. What was most fascinating to me was the ability to do so with information concerning a single day of battle. The second volume in his trilogy, while large, never feels its length as the narrative is so well written, it pushes you forward and forward until you are wanting more. Not only does he chronicle the one day of battle more incredibly than I have ever read before, he does so through the time tables of action seen on the field. I have rarely seen a book outside of the Gettysburg Campaign handle such a time table like this and it is good to have for ease of reading. Filled with photographs and maps of the battle, there is never any confusion from the reader on what is going on in the strange battle. While the first volume may have been titled A Mad Irregular Battle there were moments in which I felt the same thing when handling this text. It may not have been as mad or irregular as the previous work, but the tension between the forces was still incredibly palpable.
I highly recommend The Chickamauga Campaign: Glory or the Grave to anyone interested in the Chickamauga Campaign. As I said in my introduction, every once and a while, a series comes along which makes a bold statement about a campaign. Right now, Powell is to be applauded and revered for the work he is placing within these volumes. I wait with much excitement at the coming, and final, volume.