In the late spring of 1863, the situation was growing increasingly dire for the embattled Confederate bastion at Vicksburg, Mississippi. Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee, after audaciously cutting its supply lines to live off the land, had maneuvered some 31,000 Confederate soldiers into their earthworks at Vicksburg and was slowly starving them into submission, with unfettered access of the Mississippi River as the prize.
Posts from the ‘Western Theater Issues’ Category
An Excerpt from the Current Issue: Volume 32, #1
by Robert D. Jenkins, SR
When he stepped off the train at the Western & Atlantic depot at Dalton, Ga., on the evening of December 26, 1863—the same depot where telegraph operator Edward R. Henderson tapped out the dispatch that would eventually lead to the capture of the Andrews Raiders in April 1862—the newly-appointed Confederate commander, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, considered his new assignment. Asked to take over the helm of the South’s second largest army, restore its morale, and advance it once again into Tennessee to take the initiative in the Western Theater and recover lost territory, Johnston was doubtful. He believed his Commander in Chief was asking the impossible.
An Excerpt from the current issue: Volume 31, #4
Resaca Table of Contents
Sherman in North Georgia:
The Battle of Resaca
by Stephen Davis
As the war entered its third year, the North seemed on the verge of victory. By early 1864, Union armies had conquered and were occupying large areas of Confederate territory, including most of Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and the vital Mississippi River valley. Moreover, Northern forces, with their superior strength, held the initiative on all fronts. Confederate armies were now too weak to launch the giant raids led by Braxton Bragg into Kentucky in 1862 and by Robert E. Lee into Pennsylvania in 1863. By these indices, the North was winning the war, and would triumph at its end.
Volume XXX Issue #6 • An Excerpt From:
The Battle of Tupelo
by Tom Parson
Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s army—or rather his army group—was on the move. In the first week of May 1864, his blue columns had left their camps around Chattanooga and begun the 120-mile march to Atlanta. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee stood ready, if not able, to halt the Union commander’s endeavors. Sherman’s 98,000 soldiers nearly doubled Johnston’s force of 50,000.
Johnston had no illusions whether he could stand up to the three Union armies as they entered Georgia from the north: a stand up fight was out of the question. What Johnston could do, and in fact did, was to maneuver when he could, fall back when he had to, and wait for his adversary to make a mistake. If he could take advantage of an error on Sherman’s part, Joe Johnston might be able to even the odds.
Volume XXX Issue #4 • An Excerpt From:
The Battle of Franklin
by Eric Jacobson
In the fall of 1864, as the Civil War dragged toward its fourth brutal year, the last great campaign of that epic struggle unfolded across Middle Tennessee. Hood’s Tennessee Campaign, as it became known, saw old antagonists confront one another yet again, as the beleaguered Confederate troops desperately tried to stave off defeat, and Federal soldiers worked feverishly to prevent the war from dragging on and achieve ultimate victory. For nearly 150 years the events which swirled through Tennessee that autumn have been an integral part of Civil War history, yet are sadly overlooked by many. In the past decade great strides have been made to return the campaign to a place of national prominence.
At Spring Hill and Franklin, scenes of high drama, human error, bravery and bloodshed, were fused together in a frantic period of barely 36 hours. As a result, the very names of those places were burned deep into the minds of those who fought, marched, and struggled there. They understood how important it all was, and as we approach the 150th anniversary of Spring Hill and Franklin, the events there deserve the attention they were so long denied.
Volume XXIX Issue #6 • An Excerpt From:
by Wiley Sword
Amid the eerie stillness of sunrise on the morning of November 25, 1863, a Union private contemplated the prospect of battle that lay before him. “[A] soldier intuitively knows that he will soon be called upon for bloody work,” he wrote nervously. With an uncertain fate staring him in the face, he thought of God, for “the Almighty Hand holds our lives,” he noted. Amid the surrounding men of his unit many were, indeed, thumbing through their pocket bibles, silently offering a prayer for mercy in the coming fight.
Yet, there was heavy irony in this scene. There were no specific plans to use these soldiers of the Army of the Cumberland in the pending battle at Chattanooga, Tenn. They were seemingly so many outcasts, victims of their recent huge defeat at Chickamauga, and apparently all but ignored in the plans of Ulysses S. Grant to attack and destroy the besieging Confederate army of Braxton Bragg.
The day wore on. The impatient soldiers of George Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland watched a few thin clouds drift by in an azure sky. By mid-morning the sky was completely clear, noted a bored infantryman, and the tedious watching and waiting continued.
Volume XXX, #2, an Excerpt from:
Morgan’s Great Raid, 1863
Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio
By James Ramage
General John Hunt Morgan was one of the greatest special forces commanders in history, and he stands higher today in military history than ever. In the important book A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War, Daniel Sutherland, a leading scholar on irregular warfare in the Civil War, wrote that Morgan was “a master of guerrilla tactics” who, beginning in the summer of 1862, “stood alone as the premier Confederate partisan.” As “the central figure” among Confederate guerrillas, by example, Morgan “resuscitated many local bands that had gone to the ground” and renewed the hopes of Southerners. David L. Mowery, in his excellent, new book, Morgan’s Great Raid: The Remarkable Expedition from Kentucky to Ohio, concludes that the Great Raid was “an extraordinary military operation” and one of the most outstanding, “groundbreaking” military achievements in military history.