Chickamauga: A Battlefield Guide with a Section on Chattanooga

By Steven E. Woodworth | Go to book overview

Introduction

In September 1863 the Union Army of the Cumberland met the Confederate Army of Tennessee in the woods and hard- scrabble cornfields of northwest Georgia in one of the most dramatic battles of the Civil War. Chickamauga displayed the valor and toughness of the Civil War soldier -- and the alternate brilliance and blundering of his commanders -- as well as any conflict in the war. Only at Gettysburg, where considerably more men were present, did a Civil War battle produce a longer casualty list than that of Chickamauga, and Chickamauga was both the largest battle and the only major Confederate victory west of the Appalachians. Chickamauga witnessed the increasing tendency of Civil War soldiers to build fieldworks, a sound instinct for self-preservation that was to become very pronounced in the year and a half of war that remained. It was the last great Confederate offensive that had any remote chance of reversing, at least temporarily, the tide of the war, and it was the last of the great old- fashioned set-piece battles -- outside siege lines and prepared positions -- before Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman took over the major Union armies and began the relentless drive toward victory that knew neither pause nor retreat -- Grant's tenacious "bulldog grip" on Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and Sherman's "big Indian war" through Georgia -- during 1864. It is a fascinating study.

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