David A. Powell
Savas Beatie, 2014, 674 pp. + 20 pp. Introduction, $37.50
Image courtesy of amazon.com
While there have been works previously written about the Battle of Chickamauga and the campaign surrounding it, no work has yet reached the apex of information and narrative as this book has done. David A. Powell’s The Chickamauga Campaign, is the first in a series of books which will chronicle the campaign, this book dealing with the action from the onset of the campaign through the second day of battle. What Powell has accomplished in these pages is something which I’m sure most fans of this battle have been waiting for. Not only is the book well researched, but it a wealth of knowledge which should be considered the pinnacle of historical writing for this seminal campaign.
David A. Powell is a graduate from the Virginia Military Institute of the Class of 1983 with a BA in History. The bulk 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, 1983. 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.
As the readers thumb through this giant tome, they will find that this narrative is without a doubt the most comprehensive work on the early part of the campaign going all the way to the second day of battle. Chapter by chapter gives detailed attention to the strains of the high command for the Union and gives very good descriptions of both Generals Bragg and Rosencrans at the outset of the campaign. Powell talks of the difficulty which not only hindered Bragg, but President Davis as well knowing that the supplies were slim and had to depend on the interior Rebel lines in order to enforce the army. When Powell’s narrative reaches the battlefield, the sources used in describing the actions taken by the armies not only reaches the commander’s reports, but uses memoirs and diaries to supplement the stories of the soldiers. As one reads the narrative and views the sources, you can tell the painstaking research which was done in order to accomplish this book. The second half of the book details the second day of combat while a majority of the first half deals with the early days of the campaign.
In his introduction, Powell states that even though the Battle of Chickamauga has the second worst casualties in the American Civil War after Gettysburg, there is not much coverage in writing. Because of his great research and work towards this book, the concern of the lack of writing on the Battle of Chickamauga is put to rest. Powell’s work is highly recommended to anyone interested in the Civil War. Every once and a while, a work comes along that defines the campaign and becomes not only a classic but a pinnacle of study for students to come. The narrative is flowing and is supplemented with both maps and images. Powell should be praised for the work which he has done in this volume and I know that he will continue this excellent in the coming volume.