Archive for November, 2011

“The Project”

November 20, 2011

I have wanted to post on Brigadier General Robert B. Mitchell and how he came to command the Union Cavalry Corps at Chickamauga for some time now, but frankly, the story seems to grow more complicated each time I examine it. It’s not just that the experience of Mitchell, who missed the first part of the campaign and reached the corps just days before Stanley took ill, is obscure. The larger question is why General Rosecrans, who spent so much effort in the spring of 1863 trying to recruit up his mounted arm and seemed to take such an interest in it at the brigade and regimental level, was not similarly focused on creating an effective divisional and corps structure.
And so what began as a simple post about a relatively unknown political general from Kansas is morphing into a deeper examination of the Army of the Cumberland Cavalry Corps, a far more comprehensive project than is suitable for a blog post. As a result, poor General Mitchell will have to wait…

Instead, I want to announce a project that still seems too good to be true, at least from my perspective.

More than once, I have mentioned – on tours or just doing ACW-ish stuff with friends – that I harbor an ambition to do a multi-volume study of Chickamauga, devoting a volume each to September 19th and 20th, 1863. Both the Maps of Chickamauga and Failure In The Saddle have been satisfying in their own right, but each project is of necessity limited in scope. I’d like to do something more ambitious – or more grandiose, if you will – in covering the whole battle.

So why not two volumes? The first would cover the campaign from the Crossing of the Tennessee at the end of August until nightfall on September 19th; the second to pick up with from there and ending on September 22nd or 23rd, with the Federals ensconced in Chattanooga and Bragg trying to figure out “what next?”

The answer to that question, at least until recently, was “because you’ll never find a publisher, dummy.”:)

A few weeks ago, that answer changed.

My current publisher, Ted Savas, called me and broached the idea. I’m sure I’ve mentioned the concept to Ted casually in the past, but we’d never had any serious discussions about it. So when Ted called, suggesting this very project, I was floored. Yes, my love of the battle of Chickamauga would certainly induce me to write it. But would the book-buying public’s interest in Chickamauga make the project commercially viable? Ted thinks the answer is yes. He’s even suggested that we might include a 3rd volume, an extended set of appendices similar to Dr. Joseph Harsh’s “Sounding the Shallows,” which accompanied his outstanding volumes on Antietam.

My first thought? It’s really gonna suck when I wake up and find that it was all a dream.

My second? How can I refuse?

So I am writing. The best news is that I actually have been writing for a long time, sort of on the side, in hopes that I would eventually find a home for it. I actually have the bulk of this all written, at least in rough draft. I estimate it will require about 50 to 55 chapters, (not including all those appendices) of which I have about 38 finished. (Again, in rough draft. Lots of revising ahead. Oh Joy!) That means that “the project” is not just a distant gleam, but actually within 18 months to a year of completion.

My final thought? Thanks Ted. As long as you’re not really Lucy in disguise, about to yank that football out of the way at the last minute…

You wouldn’t toy with a guy that way, would you?

Change to March Study Group, please note:

November 16, 2011

Your fearless blog host has had an “oops” moment.

I got the dates wrong for our March tours. the new dates are:

March 9 and 10, 2012

I have changed the previous post and sent out corrected emails. I hope no one is too inconvenienced by this error. My apologies

CCNMP 2012 Study Group

November 13, 2011

Fall’s been busy, too busy to get much done here it seems.:)

It is now time, however, to announce our schedule for the March 2012 tours, our annual two day trip to the battlefield. The schedule is as follows. Pleasee feel free to re-post or pass this along…

CCNMP Study Group 2012 Seminar in the Woods.
March 9-10, 2012
Friday: All Day, on bus:

Meet at 8:00 am at the CCNMP visitor’s center

Friday Morning – 21st Corps in the Chickamauga campaign.
By bus, we will explore the movements of the Union 21st Corps as it occupies Chattanooga and then advances on Ringgold between September 9th and 11th, 1863. Less studied than the more famous action in McLemore’s Cove, Major General Thomas L. Crittenden’s advance on Ringgold still posed a threat to Bragg’s rail connection, moving south along the Western and Atlantic while the main Rebel army was falling back to LaFayette. Actions at Graysville and Ringgold highlight this phase of the campaign.

Lunch: Since we will be close to the park for most of the day, we will arrange for lunch at a local restaurant, probably the Park Place, between Noon and 1 PM. More to follow on that.

Friday Afternoon – Retreating as fast as they can go? Thomas at Rossville, September 21, 1863.
By bus, we will explore the Union retreat from the battlefield on the night of September 20th, and examine the position Major General George Thomas adopted by dawn on September 21st. Far from fleeing in disorder, the Army of the Cumberland had largely re-organized and was ready for a fight on Monday morning. We will also discuss the various Confederate efforts at reconnaissance of this new Union position, and how successful those efforts were.

Saturday Morning, 8:30 a.m.: Horatio Van Cleve’s Division on September 19th, on foot.
Between about 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on September 19th, two brigades of Van Cleve’s 3rd Division, 21st Corps, attempted to turn the Confederate flank in Brock field. After some initial success against Marcus Wright’s Tennessee Brigade (including Carnes’ Battery) however, Van Cleve’s men met with more Confederates under A.P. Stewart, producing a bloody slugfest in the woods. Eventually, the Federals themselves were outflanked by elements of Bushrod Johnson’s Rebels, resulting in a collapse of the Union line.
Car Caravan from the visitor’s Center.

Saturday Afternoon, 1:30 p.m. Thomas J. Wood and the Battle of Chickamauga. on foot.
No general is more controversial than Tom Wood. His actions on September 20th will be examined in detail, from his infamous movement out of Brotherton Field to his final position on Snodgrass Hill. Along the way we will discuss his culpability in creating the crisis of “the gap,” his relations with other officers in the army, and his contributions to the defense of Horseshoe Ridge.
Car Caravan from the visitor’s Center.

Optional: Sunday, March 18th – Andersonville, with Frank Crawford – car caravan.
Frank has offered to take us down to the National Prisoner of War Museum and historic site at Andersonville. Andersonville lies about 2 hours drive southwest of Atlanta, or roughly four hours south of Chattanooga. While it is remote, that very isolation only adds to the impact of the park and cemetery. Those who wish to attend would drive down on Sunday morning, and spend midday at the park (plan on a couple of hours.) For the return, for those flying it would be best to fly into and out of Hartsfield, in Atlanta.

Cost: Beyond the fee for Friday’s Bus, there is no cost for tour participation. Meals lodging, transportation, and incidentals, however, are the individual’s responsibility.

Tour Departures: All tours will meet at the Chickamauga Visitor’s Center at the designated start time, and will depart from there after some brief overview discussion. We will board the bus or car caravan to the designated parking area, and from there, we will be on foot. We will be on foot for up to three hours, so dress and prepare accordingly. Tours will depart rain or shine. Participants are responsible for their own transportation, and should plan accordingly. All tours are designed to be self-contained, so participants who cannot attend the full schedule are still welcome to join us for any portion of the weekend.

Lodging and Meals: Everyone is responsible for their own lodging and meals. There are many hotels in the greater Chattanooga area, for any price range. The closest are in Fort Olgethorpe, Georgia, with the least expensive in Ringgold. Each tour is designed to leave at least 90 minutes for lunch, and there are several family and fast food restaurants within minutes of the battlefield. There are designated picnic areas near the Visitor’s Center, for those who wish to bring a lunch and eat on the field.

What to bring: Each tour will involve extensive walking. Proper clothing and especially footgear is essential. Dress in layers, wear sturdy, broken-in walking shoes or boots, and be prepared for some rain, as spring can be quite wet in North Georgia. We will be walking on dirt and gravel trails, uncut fields, and through stretches of woods. The ground will be wet and muddy in places. Bring your own water and snacks.

Reading up on the subject: Many people like to prepare in advance for these kinds of events. I suggest the following works might be of help.

Cozzens, Peter. This Terrible Sound. University of Illinois, 1992. The best modern study of the battle.

Powell, David with Cartography by Dave Friedrichs, The Maps Of Chickamauga. Savas-Beatie, 2009.

Powell, David. Failure In The Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joe Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign. Savas-Beatie, 2010.

Woodworth, Stephen E. Six Armies In Tennessee: The Chickamauga And Chattanooga Campaigns. Lincoln, Nebraska. University of Nebraska Press, 1998. An excellent overview campaign study.

——————-, A Deep Steady Thunder: The Battle Of Chickamauga. Abilene, Texas. McWhiney Foundation Press, 1998. Concise but very useful account of the battle, designed as an introduction to the action. 100 pages, very readable.

Note: Friday’s Tours will be by Bus, as we move from site to site. While the tour itself is free, we do have to pay for the bus.

Pre-registration Fee: $35 Due by February 1st, 2011

Send to:
Frank will hold your payments. If you pay by check, note that Frank will not cash those checks until we have sufficient entries, so that if we have to refund, Frank will simply send your checks back to you.
Please also note that this fee is NON-REFUNDABLE after February 1st, 2011. Once we are committed to the bus, we will be charged the booking fee.

If you wish to attend the Sunday trip to Andersonville, please inform Frank at this time.

On-site Sign up Fee: $40
We MUST have 20 attendees registered and Paid by Feb 1st, or we cannot reserve the bus. Once we confirm the minimum, you will be able to join the tour the day we depart, for late add-ons. If we do not meet the minimum, we will car-caravan for Friday’s tours.

Final note: Last year we raised a sizable amount of money over and above the cost of the bus, and were able to contribute a number of new titles to the CCNMP research library, mostly regimental histories of recent vintage. The park currently does not have operating funds allocated for these kinds of acquisitions, and depends entirely on donations to fund library additions. I feel that this is an ideal use for any excess funds we raise, in keeping with the “study group” mission.