The three campaigns discussed in this book represent desperate Confederate efforts to reverse the strategic course of the war in the West. They involved a mighty struggle for control of the Upper South--Tennessee and Kentucky--with its sizable population, rich agricultural resources, and strategic importance. Control of this region would put the Confederates on the North's doorstep; loss of it would place Federal troops on the verge of invading the Deep South. It was a critical phase of the western war, which was predominantly a contest of far-flung offensives spanning huge reaches of territory.
In the end, the Confederates lost more than they gained. Gen. Braxton Bragg's invasion of Kentucky failed to bring that state under Confederate control but saved Chattanooga and much of Middle Tennessee. That action set the stage for Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans's Stones River campaign, which placed a bit more of the Upper South under Federal control. Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn failed in his attempt to retake Corinth, Mississippi, but he also inadvertently prepared the way for a major Union offensive against Vicksburg. As was true of Gen. ' Robert E. Lee's contemporary raid into Maryland, the glittering possibility of Confederate strategic gains in the summer and fall of 1862 bore relatively little fruit. By the time these campaigns ended, Rebel armies were again on the defensive in all theaters of the war.
This book tells the story of these attempts by the Confederates in the West to recover territory lost to the Federals during the previous winter and spring. It covers the period from June 1862 through January 1863 and is part of a sixteen-volume series titled The Great Campaigns of the Civil War. While the Kentucky campaign, Corinth, and Stones River have been stud-