“The Project”

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?

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15 Responses to ““The Project””

  1. Harry Smeltzer Says:

    Yeee-freakin’-ha!

  2. Lou Mosier Says:

    Dave–

    Great news! Looking forward to the finished product(s). I predict those volumes will become instant classics.

  3. Andy Papen Says:

    Absolutely AWESOME news!

  4. Chris Evans Says:

    Sounds great. Looking forward to it!

  5. James F. Epperson Says:

    Great—Another book I am obligated to buy and read! When am I going to find the time to write my own books?

    Seriously, congratulations!

  6. Donald Hallstrom Says:

    Hello

    As a long time follower of your blog, I’ve seen some of your earlier comments about this subject. I was hopeful that you would find a publisher. Really glad to see that your project will be completed. I also think you have a great publisher behind you. I know the quality of the final product will be great.

    Congratulations
    Don Hallstrom

  7. Mike Peters Says:

    Cool beans Dude!

    Mike

  8. Marc Grad Says:

    That’s great news Dave. Congratulations!! I look forward to reading those when they are published.

  9. Donald E. Monroe Says:

    Dave: Terrific. If your final work is one tenth as thorough and readable and professional as your blogs, then you have it made. There seems to be more confilicts, disagreements, and discrepancies relative to the Battle of Chickamauga than any other Civil War Battle, relative to the scale and significance of the battle. You are very brave for taking on this task. When I asked Peter Cozzens, a writer whom I greatly respect, how he goes about resolving conflicts that are very difficult, if not impossible, to resolve, based on original sources, he finally admitted, “Sometimes you just have to flip a coin.” If you are able to reduce the number of coin flips necessary when studying this battle, then you will have done a tremendous service. Good luck on your efforts. Oh, yes, is there a target date for publication? Cheers.

  10. James F. Epperson Says:

    BTW, tell Ted to issue a Nook/Kindle version.

    • Dave Powell Says:

      Jim,

      There is already an Epub for Failure, so I am sure that Ted will plan on going forward with similar files for other books (assuming, of course, that they sell OK)

      Everyone,

      Thanks for the words of support. Savas and I don’t have a projected release date, since I still have much work to do, but I am working hard. 2013 would of course be a good time, 150th Anniv and all. I doubt 2012. Too short a window.

  11. Brad Butkovich Says:

    Incredible news! I can’t wait.

  12. Mark Szymcik aka grognard on Armchair General forums Says:

    Dave, I can’t wait–really loved the Failure in the Saddle and Maps of Chickamauga books and another major study of the battle–wow! I’m salavating and saving my pennies already

  13. Mark Szymcik aka grognard on Armchair General forums Says:

    PS–those of yopu who haven’t read Dave’s other books, he does write at least as well as he blogs

  14. Terry Johnston Says:

    Dave:

    Belated congratulations. Looking forward to it here.

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