After Major General William Tecumseh Sherman’s forces ravaged Atlanta in 1864, Ulysses S. Grant urged him to complete the primary mission Grant had given him: to destroy the Confederate Army in Georgia. Attempting to draw the Union army north, General John Bell Hood’s Confederate forces focused their attacks on Sherman’s supply line, the railroad from Chattanooga, and then moved across north Alabama and into Tennessee. As Sherman initially followed Hood’s men to protect the railroad, Hood hoped to lure the Union forces out of the lower South and, perhaps more important, to recapture the long-occupied city of Nashville.
Though Hood managed to cut communication between Sherman and George H. Thomas’s Union forces by placing his troops across the railroads south of the city, Hood’s men were spread over a wide area and much of the Confederate cavalry was in Murfreesboro. Hood’s army was ultimately routed. Union forces pursued the Confederate troops for ten days until they recrossed the Tennessee River. The decimated Army of Tennessee (now numbering only about 15,000) retreated into northern Alabama and eventually Mississippi. Hood requested to be relieved of his command. Less than four months later, the war was over.
Written in a lively and engaging style, Nashville presents new interpretations of the critical issues of the battle. James Lee McDonough sheds light on how the Union army stole past the Confederate forces at Spring Hill and their subsequent clash, which left six Confederate generals dead. He offers insightful analysis of John Bell Hood’s overconfidence in his position and of the leadership and decision-making skills of principal players such as Sherman, George Henry Thomas, John M. Schofield, Hood, and others.
Within the pages of Nashville, McDonough’s subjects, both common soldiers and officers, present their unforgettable stories in their own words. Unlike most earlier studies of the battle of Nashville, McDonough’s account examines the contributions of black Union regiments and gives a detailed account of the battle itself as well as its place in the overall military campaign. Filled with new information from important primary sources and fresh insights, Nashville will become the definitive treatment of a crucial battleground of the Civil War.
James Lee McDonough is retired professor of history from Auburn University. He is the author of numerous books on the Civil War, including Shiloh—In Hell Before Night, Chattanooga—Death Grip on the Confederacy, and War in Kentucky: From Shiloh to Perryville.
Nels Anderson’s World War I Diary provides a rare glimpse into the wartime experiences of one of the most well-respected sociologists of the twentieth century, the renowned author of The Hobo (1920) and Desert Saints: The Mormon Frontier in Utah (1942). Anderson, a keen observer of people, places, and events his entire life, joined the U.S. Army in 1918 at the age of 29 and was sent to Europe to fight as part of the Allied Expeditionary Force (AEF) under General Pershing. Because keeping a journal was strongly discouraged among American forces during WWI, particularly among the rank-and-file soldiers, Anderson’s diary stands as a rare gem. Furthermore, it is the only known account of war service during WWI by a member of the LDS Church. Anderson joined the Mormon faith after accepting the hospitality of an extended Mormon ranching family during his travels throughout the American West as a working hobo.
Anderson’s accounts of the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives are particularly remarkable given the challenges of keeping a detailed journal amidst the chaos and suffering of the war’s Western Front. His insights into the depravity and callousness of war are buttressed with intimate human portraits of those to whom he was closest. The war years provided many formative experiences that would prove to have a lasting influence on Anderson’s views regarding the working poor, authority, and human values; this would come to bear heavily on his later work as a pioneering sociologist at the University of Chicago, where he helped establish participant observation as a research method. The many introspective entries contained in this volume will be of reat interest to military historians and history buffs as well as to those in the social sciences looking to find the intellectual origins of Anderson’s later work in the burgeoning field of sociology.
Winner of the Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for Journals, Memoirs, and Letters.
The Civil War was barely over before Southerners and other students of the war began to examine the Confederate high command in search of an explanation for the South's failure. Although years of research failed to show that the South's defeat was due to a single, overriding cause, the actions of the Southern leaders during the war were certainly among the reasons the South lost the war.
In No Band of Brothers, Steven Woodworth explores, through a series of essays, various facets of the way the Confederacy waged its unsuccessful war for secession. He examines Jefferson Davis and some of his more important generals, including Pierre G. T. Beauregard, Leonidas Polk, Joseph E. Johnston, Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson; the Confederacy's strategic plans; and the South's success in making competent officers out of men with very little military preparation.
Woodworth particularly looks at the personalities and personal relationships that affected the course and outcome of the war. What made a good general? What could make an otherwise able man a failure as a general? What role did personal friendships or animosities play in the Confederacy's top command assignments and decisions? How successful was the Confederacy in making competent generals out of its civilian leaders? In what ways did Jefferson Davis succeed or fail in maximizing the chances for the success of his cause?
In analyzing the Confederate leadership, Woodworth reveals some weaknesses, many strengths, and much new information. No Band of Brothers will be an important addition to Civil War scholarship and will be welcomed by professional historians, amateur historians, students, and the general reader alike.
A dynamic figure in the pages of history, Major General William “Bull” Nelson played a formative role in the Union’s success in Kentucky and the Western theater of the Civil War. Now, Donald A. Clark presents a long-overdue examination of this irascible officer, his numerous accomplishments, and his grim fate. More popularly known for his temper than his intrepid endeavors on behalf of the North, Nelson nevertheless dedicated much of his life to his nation and the preservation of the Union.
The child of a privileged family, Nelson was one of the first officers to graduate from the newly formed U.S. Naval Academy. His years in the Navy imbued in him the qualities of bravery, loyalty, and fortitude; however, his term of service also seemed to breed an intolerance of others for which he became infamous, and that ultimately led to his violent downfall. Clark sheds new light upon Nelson’s pre–Civil War years as a naval officer, when he became a hardened veteran of battle, fighting at the siege of Veracruz and the capture of Tabasco during the Mexican War in the 1840s. On the basis of Nelson’s military experience, in 1861 President Lincoln sent him to Kentucky—which was considering secession—and Nelson rallied loyalists and helped the Union prepare to maintain control of the state during the next several years of war.
Nelson went on to prove instrumental in blocking Confederate attempts to subdue Kentucky and the West, serving important roles in the battle of Shiloh, General Henry W. Halleck’s advance against Corinth, and Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell’s movement toward Chattanooga. But while some viewed his bold maneuvers as the saving of the state, many others, including such notables as Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, argued that Nelson’s actions merited no praise. Unfortunately for the general, the question of his value to the Union abruptly became moot, as his achievements were shortly overshadowed by ignominious rumors of scandal and abuse.
His involvement in the defense of Louisville gave Nelson a chance to redeem himself and restore his military reputation, but the general’s famous temper soon robbed him of any potential glory. During September of 1862, in a crime that was never prosecuted, fellow Union general Jefferson C. Davis shot and killed Nelson after an argument. Clark explores this remarkable exception in military law, arguing that while the fact of the murder was indisputable, many considered Davis a hero for having dispatched the so-called tyrant. Although Nelson eventually received many posthumous honors for his indispensable role in the war, justice was never sought for his murder.
A comprehensive study of this well-known, yet misunderstood American figure, The Notorious “Bull” Nelson: Murdered Civil War General is an illuminating addition to the history of the Civil War. Through Clark’s impeccable research and richly layered narrative, William “Bull” Nelson springs from the pages as large and volatile as he was in life.