A Deep Steady Thunder: The Battle of Chickamauga

Overview

In September 1863, Union Gen. William S. Rosecrans drives into Georgia flanking Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg out of Chattanooga. Bragg, heavily reinforced, turns on Rosecrans and nearly traps him before he can fall back. The two great armies finally meet at Chickamauga. Through woods and small clearings, a confused but vicious battle rages as each army gropes and grapples at the other trying to find the enemy's flanks. At nightfall, Rosecrans holds his ground and continues to slide his army northward to ...
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Overview

In September 1863, Union Gen. William S. Rosecrans drives into Georgia flanking Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg out of Chattanooga. Bragg, heavily reinforced, turns on Rosecrans and nearly traps him before he can fall back. The two great armies finally meet at Chickamauga. Through woods and small clearings, a confused but vicious battle rages as each army gropes and grapples at the other trying to find the enemy's flanks. At nightfall, Rosecrans holds his ground and continues to slide his army northward to Chattanooga. The following morning, however, Bragg launches an attack that catches Rosecrans in the midst of a clumsy readjustment of his lines. Half the Union Army is crushed and sent streaming back to Chattanooga. The other half, led by the redoubtable George H. Thomas, stands firm, weathers furious day-long assaults, and salvages honor and survival for the beaten Union Army.A brief, fast-moving, colorful account of one of the biggest and bloodiest battles of the Civil War by a widely published historian.

Author Biography: STEVEN E. WOODWORTH holds a Ph.D. from Rice University and is a Professor of History at Texas Christian University. He is the author of Davis and Lee at War, winner of the Fletcher Pratt Award, Jefferson Davis and His Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West, which was a Main Selection of the History Book Club and winner of the Fletcher Pratt Award, and The American Civil War: A Handbook of Literature and Research, and many others including This Grand Spectacle: The Battle of Chattanooga also from McWhiney Foundation Press.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781886661103
  • Publisher: McWhiney Foundation
  • Publication date: 4/13/1996
  • Series: Civil War Campaigns and Commanders Series
  • Pages: 140
  • Sales rank: 816,997
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

STEVEN E. WOODWORTH holds a Ph.D. from Rice University and is a Professor of History at Texas Christian University. He has received numerous awards including the Grady McWhiney Award presented by the Dallas Civil War Roundtable for lifetime achievement in Civil War history and preservation, the Society of Military History Distinguished Book Award, the Fletcher Pratt Award, and has had two books selected by the History Book Club as main selections. He is the author of numerous books, including This Grand Spectacle: The Battle of Chattanooga also from McWhiney Foundation Press. He can be reached for interview at S.Woodworth@tcu.edu.

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Read an Excerpt

The Chickamauga is a quiet brown stream that meanders between steep muddy banks on its unhurried way through a long Georgia valley to the Tennessee River. In 1863 its rich bottomlands were mostly cultivated, but beyond the open fields the land rolled upward in forest-covered hills dotted here and there with a farmstead and hard-scrabble field. The farmers' hogs, cattle, and goats ranged and rooted in the woods and kept the underbrush down so that a man could see a hundred yards or more through them except in a few dense patches of blackjack oak thicket. The name Chickamauga had come from the Cherokees, and legend said it meant "River of Death" in their tongue. It had seen its share of death when white man and Cherokee had struggled for the land the century before, but it had known little but peace since then until in the third year of America's Civil War, the tides of conflict carried two great armies to its banks for one of the bloodiest clashes of the war.

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Table of Contents

Contents

1. To the Banks of the Chickamauga                                        13
2. Encounter in the Woods                                                        33
3. A Deep, Steady Thunder                                                       45
4. The Time for Fighting                                                            59
5. A Scene Unspeakably Grand                                                74
6. The Peculiar Fierceness                                                       89
Appendix A: Organization of Federal Forces                           100
Appendix B: Organization of Confederate Forces                   110
Further Reading                                                                       122
Index                                                                                         126

The brief biographies accompanying the photographs were written by Grady McWhiney and David Coffey.

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  • Posted August 3, 2011

    A Deep Steady Thunder in Georgia

    erican Civil War books and media.
    Tuesday, August 02, 2011
    Noteworthy---A Deep and Steady Thunder in Georgia
    A Deep and Steady Thunder: The Battle of Chickamaugua, Steven E. Woodworth, McWhiney Foundation Press,134 pp., order of battle, bibliography, index, 1996 and 2006,$11.95.

    Steven Woodworth does a fine job of explaining one of the Civil War's most tactically complex battles. The Battle of Chickamauga, which was fought September 18-20 1863 fought, northern Georgia's dark forests with few farm clearings, includes a multitude of intentional and unintentional flanking attacks ordered by confused commanders with limited tactical control. It was a battle fought largely by brigades, regimental and company commanders. Chickamauga, though as important as Gettysburg, has not generated the wealth of campaign and battle studies. Glenn Tucker's Chickamauga, published during the Civil War centennial and Peter Cozzen's 1992 This Terrible Sound are the only two notable campaign and battle studies.

    Woodworth has nicely crafted a concise, clear narrative for readers who are approaching the battle for the first or second time. Containing 21 short biographical descriptions and 13 maps, A Deep Steady Thunder moves from general staff to regimental levels in a quick fashion. Woodworth is direct in his criticism of Confederate commanders resistance to Bragg's sound and appropriate plans and Rosercans exhaustion induced confusion that is reminiscent of Jackson's Seven Days on the Peninsula in 1862. Woodworth's description of Longstreet as being arrogant, self-promoting and envious of Bragg's position seems to be a bit over the top. Another book from the McWhiney Press offers a heavy handed demolition of Longstreet during the Chickamauga, Chattanooga and Knoxville campaigns of 1863.

    The strength of Woodworth's effort is his handling of the command decisions which limited the Confederate's successes and brought about the Federals defeat. As divisions, brigades and regiments move back and forth through the wilderness and cornfields confusion sometimes reigns. Fortunately, Woodworth has sorted through a multitude of assaults, retreats, and counter-attacks to provide a clear and even suspenseful accounting of plans gone awry. Rosecran's movement of brigades that led to gaps in the Federal line on the 20th are clearly described. The important arrivals of Longstreet's Confederate corps and Granger's Federal reserve division are nicely described and their importance to the outcome of the battle is well developed by Woodworth.

    Within the limits of 100 pages, Woodworth offers tight and thorough introduction to the Battle of Chickamauga; for those who are visiting for the first time the battlefield it is a fine place to start. For the armchair reader who is unfamiliar with the 'Gettysburg of the West' A Deep Steady Thunder offers good introduction.

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