Monday, July 26, 2010

The Chickamauga Campaign

The Chickamauga Campaign. Edited by Steven E. Woodworth.

Western theater battles often lack the coverage that Eastern theater battles do. This discrepancy will never be erased but lately there has been a surge of Western Theater material. Partially trying to fill this void is the Civil War Campaigns in Heartland series from Southern Illinois University Press. The second volume, covering the Chickamauga campaign, follows on the heels of the wonderful Shiloh volume published last year.

Editor Steven E. Woodworth has assembled eight essays that explore some aspects of the campaign and provoke some critical thinking. The collection of essays focuses more on the Confederate side than the Union side. There are essays on D. H. Hill, Alexander Stewart, James Longstreet, Patrick Cleburne’s night assault, James Negley’s actions on Horseshoe Ridge, the performances of Thomas Crittenden and Alexander McCook, the near battle of McLemore’s Cove and Henry Van Ness Boynton’s shaping of Chickamauga as a national park. Although the collection focuses more on the Confederates it is not a distracting decision especially since the essay on Crittenden and McCook is nearly three times the length of the other essays, so the page count is probably pretty closely divided.

All the essays were good, there did not seem to be a weak one in the collection. There are four maps at the front of the book. Although it is nice to have maps these are not the best maps as all troop locations are shown as a horizontal box. On a theater map this is fine but on a battlefield map this makes it appear as if all troops were facing north or south. Some maps from contributor David Powell’s recent “Maps of Chickamauga” would have been better.

The problems with the maps though are easily overlooked though because of what a wonderful collection of essays this is. With two volumes in the Campaigns in Heartland series completed this series is now established as one to pay attention to for all future installments.

Contributors were John R. Lundberg, Alexander Mendoza, David Powell, Ethan S. Rafuse, William G. Robertson, Timothy B. Smith, Lee White, and Steven E. Woodworth.

The full review will be posted after its publication in Civil War News.

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