eReview: Six Armies in Tennessee: The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns
by Steven E. Woodworth Hardcover - 256 pages (May 1998) Univ of Nebraska Press; ISBN: 0803247788
Review by Vance Floyd
"Brilliant campaigns without battles do not accomplish the destruction of an army..a campaign like that of Tullahoma always means a battle at some other point." ---Lt. Henry Cist of Rosecran's staff.
The campaigns and battles for control of Tennessee make a fascinating study for the Civil War enthusiast and Steven Woodword has a well written book that examines this time.
As Mr Woodworth writes: "It is not a bullet by bullet account of any battle....Rather, its goal is to sift and compare all the evidence for a large series of campaigns ...and present a coherent narrative."
In this, Woodworth has succeeded. His Six Armies In Tennessee is a fascinating and concise examination of the war for Tennessee from the start of Rosecrans' Tullahoma Campaign to Grant's rout of Bragg at Missionary Ridge.
Some books follow a campaign or battle so closely that a reader gets bogged down in detail and loses the overall thread. This is not a fault of Woodworth's book. He manages to give a good overall view with enough detail for the serious student, but in a thoroughly readable manner that will keep the armchair historian interested.
The stakes in Tennessee were high enough that both sides were willing to invest a large amount of men and material. On the Confederate side was the Army of Tennessee, reinforced just before Chickamauga by units from the Army of Northern Virginia, under Longstreet. The Union had in its fold the Army of the Cumberland and the Army of Ohio -- later reinforced by the Army of the Tennessee and two corps of the Army of the Potomac. Among the 'name' generals were Bragg, Rosecrans, Grant, Sherman, Thomas, Longstreet and Hooker.
After the terrible battle of Stones River, Rosecrans, his army, and his offensive campaign went on a six months hiatus. Despite strong urgings from Lincoln and Stanton, Rosey simply dug in his heels and waited till all things were right. The delay impacted the operations of Grant in Mississippi and also the operations in Virginia.
During a brilliant campaign of movement, starting in late June and lasting less than 2 weeks, Rosecrans managed to chase Bragg and his army from middle Tennessee back into Chattanooga. The action and the strategy from this relatively bloodless campaign to the bloody grounds of Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge are covered well by the author.
As brilliant as Rosecrans' stratagy was, it may have cost him later by giving him a sense of security that was unfounded. Bragg had had many problems with his subordinates and would continue to have them, but he almost managed to destroy Rosecrans and his army.
Six Armies In Tennessee covers a lot of ground and does it in an entertaining way. The section on the Tullahoma Campaign alone brings out a lot of information not easily found otherwise.
I recommend this book as a great addition to any Civil War library. With
the addition of another book by the same author: Jefferson Davis and His
Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West, Steven Woodworth
has done the readers a tremendous service.
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