2019 Seminar in the Woods Update – Bus Full

February 16, 2019

Dear Friends,

The bus for Friday, March 8, is now FULL. If you sent me a check, make sure it was cashed. If you have a Check you think might be in transit, email me at dpowell334@aol.com so I can make sure you are on the list. As of right now, only one person has informed me that they still have a check on the way, and he fills the bus. waud_chickamauga

Also, I have arranged for Lunch on Friday. We will be deep in McLemore’s Cove on Friday, far from available eats, so I have arranged food with Pigeon Mountain Grill, right at Davis’s Crossroads. Pork BBQ and Tea.

So no need to bring lunch.


Of course, there is no limit on attendance for Saturday. Please come join us.

2019 Seminar in the woods update:

January 6, 2019

Dear friends at home,

(can you tell I have been reading a lot of Civil War Letters collections?)

damaged cannon

I want to update everyone on the Seminar, to be held March 8-9, 2019.

for details on the event, see here

As of right now, I have 26 confirmed reservations for the bus on Friday, so we are about half full. I know several folks who have expressed interest, but have not yet sent a check; please make sure you sign up soon. There is usually a flurry of sign-ups right after the Holidays.

If you have any question about whether I received your check, please check to see if it A) was cashed, or B) send me an email at dpowell334@aol.com. Or, of course, do both.:)

I did have one attendee ask about the Government shutdown. While the Seminar is nine weeks away, and we should be fine, there is a slim chance that we could face a park shutdown that weekend.

If the shutdown is still in effect, our plans are unchanged. The Friday bus tour meets at the History  Company parking lot, not on park property, and we can explore McLemore’s Cove whether or not the park is open. As for Saturday, as of this writing, while the facilities are closed the Chickamauga portion of the park is actually open to visitation. That means that we can proceed with the battle walks as planned, albeit without the support function the Visitor’s center provides.

Jim Ogden’s participation in the event that we face a shutdown remains uncertain.

That said, I do not expect any shutdown, but it is best to be prepared. If this remains an issue as we get closer to the event, I will provide further updates.


October 14, 2018

Here is something I have been waiting for a long time…



Dr. William Glenn Robertson is an outstanding historian. Meticulous, dedicated, and above all, determined to tell the complete story.

So while I have my own books about Chickamauga to tout – and I am certainly proud of my own work – I want to go out of my way to tell you all about this one.

NPS Chickamauga park historian Jim Ogden once said something about Glenn Robertson’s work (specifically, about his series in Blue & Gray Magazine) that struck me then, and has never really left me. He stated that Robertson’s work was one of the few pieces of Operational-level Military History ever done on Civil War affairs. The other most prominent example of that genre, he thought, was Coddington’s masterpiece, The Gettysburg Campaign. 

After I had given that some thought, I’d have to agree – and with my own work included. The field of Civil War history is well-populated with tactical battle studies, biographies, and regimental/organizational history. But there is very little that rises to the level of campaign-level analysis. Certainly I was focused on telling the blow-by-blow of regimental conflict in those North Georgia Woods, and I am glad I did so.

But I have read a lot of military history, especially in the era of Napoleon, WWI, and WWII – where operational narrative and analysis (for obvious reasons) predominates. So I got to thinking more about that comment.

I just received this first volume of Glenn’s work. It is a true operational history, worthy of the best work produce by F. Lorraine Petrie, John Terraine, or, perhaps, any number of recent east front scholars.

So I am going to urge you to buy this book, and the subsequent volume. Am I suggesting that you go read the competition? Absolutely. Why? Two reasons. First, because this is a first-rate work piece of scholarship. Second, because the Chickamauga Campaign is so rich a topic of military history that it deserves all the attention it is finally receiving.

One final note: ACW scholarship is often divided into two camps: Academia and popular history. But there is a third grouping, which brings in the professional military perspective. IMO, the best work ends up appealing to all three points of view. And I think we managed that with River of Death. 


2019 Seminar in the Woods

October 3, 2018

Man plans, God laughs.


How true that is.

That said, it is time for me to announce some plans: namely, the March 2019 Seminar in the Woods.

Mission Statement: The purpose of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Study Group is to create a forum to bring students of the American Civil War together to study and explore those events in the fall of 1863 that led ultimately to the creation of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, as well as explore other nearby Civil War-related sites.

Tour Leaders:  Jim Ogden and Dave Powell

Date: Friday, March 8, and Saturday, March 9, 2019; By bus and car caravan.

All tours begin and end at the Visitor’s Center.

By Bus:

Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00: Operations in McLemore Cove,

On Friday we will examine the crucial operations in McLemore Cove, leading up to the battle of Chickamauga – especially the engagement of September 10 and 11, 1863, between James S. Negley and Thomas C. Hindman.

Tentatively, we will arrange for boxed lunches

Friday evening, 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. – Q&A Panel with Jim Ogden, Dave Powell, and others (as announced)

 Site: Constitution Hall, 201 Forrest Road, Fort Oglethorpe, GA

 Reprise of the Annual free-form Question and Answer session.

Harker 19 AM

Car Caravan – Saturday Morning, 8:30 to Noon: Harker’s fight up the LaFayette Road, September 19 1863

On the Afternoon of September 19, Col. Charles Harker’s brigade of Tom Wood’s division set out on a movement up the LaFayette Road, into the unknown, to make contact with Palmer’s Division. They found instead large numbers of confederates. We will track Harker’s advance.

Liddell's Division 20th Noon(1106)

Car Caravan – Saturday Afternoon, 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.: Liddell in McDonald Field

In the afternoon of September 20, Confederate Brigadier General St. John Liddell was ordered to move his division across the LaFayette Road near the McDonald House, as part of the Right Wing’s general advance. We will examine that movement, and its consequences.


 Friday’s Tours will be by Bus. Pre-registration and Fee required: $45, due by February 1 2019.

 Sign-up after February 1 or on-site Fee (based on space available): $50 

 Saturday: no charge.

Fees raised in excess of our costs (as well as any donations) will be used to support the causes of battlefield preservation, interpretation, and renovation.

 In 2018 the Study Group donated $500 to the Civil War Trust, helping to preserve battlefield land; and $500 to the Jewell Monument fund, run by the Friends of Chickamauga and Chattanooga, for maintenance and restoration needs.

 Send to (and make checks payable to):

David Powell

522 Cheyenne Drive

Lake in the Hills IL 60156

This fee is NON-REFUNDABLE after February 1st, 2019. Once we are committed to the bus, we will be charged the booking fee, no matter what.  

Please note that everyone is responsible for their own lodging, meals, snacks and incidentals.

Thank you, see you in March.


An Uncompromising Secessionist

August 12, 2018

Miller bookHere we have another Lieutenant, George Knox Miller, of the 8th Confederate Cavalry. The 8th was a “mixed” unit, comprised of four companies of Mississippians and six companies from Alabama. Miller was from Talledega, but he got around – he had attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and worked in Memphis for a time.

The “Confederate” designation of the 8th should not be confused with the Confederate Regular Army. That organization was different; the 8th Confederate was a volunteer unit, and bore the designation only because its organization crossed state lines.

Confederate personal accounts are much more rare then Federal ones, and letter collections as good as Millers – all the more rare. The first letter in this collection is written on June 14, 1860; the last, 23 February 1865. He went all through the war, with periodic lapses where letters did not survive or he was incapacitated. They are all addressed to his wife, Celestine, a.k.a. “Cellie.”

Miller’s letters are articulate, opinionated, and well-written. They should be, given his education; they definitely measure up. Knox reports on unit news, war news, and gives considerable detail about his own unit’s movements and actions. He provides ample details (he’s a keen observer, God’s gift to historians.) Miller’s letter of 10 January 1863, for example, describing Murfreesboro, runs for four and a half pages.

Here’s a quick passage concerning Miller’s actions on December 26, in a skirmish with the Federals:

I was on foot and went a little in advance of our lines to find better ground for some of the boys who were very much exposed, and just as I knelt at the root of a tree and was drawing a bead upon a big rascal, a minie ball grazed my pantaloons just above the knee. No great damage was done except tearing the yellow cord that I wear on my pants for a stripe. I had bark knocked into my eyes several times but was not hurt in the least.

It was an inconsequential skirmish, but Miller still conveys the feel of the fight. He has a knack for describing such actions.

The editing, by Richard M. McMurry, is outstanding, informative without being intrusive. McMurry is one of the best of his class of Civil War historians, and it shows in his notes to each letter.

Be forewarned, reader, few Confederate sources will be as richly rewarding to read. As we progress, Union sources will outnumber Confederate sources – such is life with the Army of Tennessee.

The Rough Side of War

August 6, 2018

IMG_0282As promised, here is the first of a series of books I feel are critical to understanding the armies that fought at Chickamauga.

Arnold Gates, ed., The Rough Side of War, The Civil War Journal of Chesley A. Mosman. Garden City, NY: The Basin Publishing Co., 1987.

Lieutenant Chesley Mosman served in the 59th Illinois Infantry. He enlisted in Marine Prairie, Illinois, in 1861; in a regiment first designated the 9th Missouri Infantry. He served in Thomas Wood’s Division of the 21st and 4th Corps. Though his first two journals for 1861 have been lost, his surviving journals begin in January, 1862, and run all the way to December 31, 1865.

Along the way, Mosman writes wonderfully detailed journal entries describing both his immediate circumstances (weather, camp life, etc.) and his thoughts on everything from questions of the day to military affairs. At 448 pages, this book is no quick read, but it is rewarding.

I have come to rely on it heavily, and cite it often.

Here is a snippet from his entry for September 2, 1863 – which runs to a full page of text.

It seems queer for Rosecrans to move his men down in rear of the Rebel Army and thus invite an attack, but such is war. They call it flanking the enemy out of his position, but one is reminded of old General Willich, who when informed by a frightened staff officer that the enemy had passed round his flank and got in rear of him, replied “Vell, vell, vat of dat? When he is in my rear aint I in his rear?” We must always remember that there are two rears – one for each army – in War, but I’ll let old Rosey boss the job.

Mosman’s journal is a vital resource for anyone studying the Army of the Cumberland, fully equal to Sam Watkins’ famous work from the Confederate perspective, “Company Aitch.”

Spend some time with Mosman.

Some worthy causes

August 5, 2018

Hello, fellow Chickamaugites. Or Chickamaugans. (I’m not sure which is more correct. Pick one.)


First, some business to conduct. Every year in March, we raise a substantial sum over and above our costs, which can be put towards worthy causes. I made a $500 donation to the American Battlefield Trust (formerly the Civil War Trust) back in the spring, but I usually wait several months to donate all the available money, in case a late-breaking opportunity comes along.

American Battlefields Trust

Since August has rolled around, I feel the need to live up to my responsibilities and finish the donations. I decided to give another $500 to the Battlefield Trust, since there was an opportunity to support a nearly 5 to 1 match for some ground at Shiloh, and as has become customary I have also sent $500 of the group’s money to the Jewell Monument Fund, administered by the Friends of the Parks at Chickamauga – now also rebranded as NPP: National Parks Partners, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Moccasin Bend.

National Parks Partners

The monument fund reserves money for restoration and the maintenance of the park’s hundreds of monuments, markers, and interpretive signs. Acquiring new sites is wonderful, but we also need to keep up the sites we have.

This leaves us $135 left in the group fund, to cover any incidentals that arise as we get ready for next March’s tours. Info on those tours (March 8-9, 2019) will be forthcoming next month.

Second, I want to alert you that I will be soon start posting an irregular series on books that pertain to this blog’s subject – specifically, memoirs, correspondence and diaries written by the men of both the Army of the Cumberland and the Army of Tennessee.

I don’t intend to review new books, but rather, alert readers to some of the better older volumes to see the light of publication over the years.

Confederate Memorial Hall New Orleans

May 25, 2018

It has been a while since I posted. Books, speaking engagements, and a series of sudden changes at work have all contributed to that hiatus. Sorry for that.

So let’s resume operations, shall we?

I recently completed a road trip to New Orleans and Austin Texas, speaking to those round tables. Along the way, I visited a great many Civil War sites: Fort Pillow in Tennessee; Vicksburg, Raymond and Champion Hill in Mississippi; Port Hudson, etc. I finished at Prairie Grove, Pea Ridge, and Wilson’s Creek.

One of the best afternoons came at the Confederate Memorial Hall in New Orleans; which as you might know is under some modern-day political pressure. It stands near Lee Circle, where the statue of Robert E. Lee was recently removed. While I don’t want to get into a lot of back-and-forth about memory, removals, and the like; I would like to spend some time highlighting Confederate Memorial Hall because – highly relevant to this blog – the place is chock-full of Chickamauga-related artifacts.

For example:

IMG_0096This flag was carried up Hill 1 on September 20 1863 by the Second Battalion, Hilliard’s Alabama Legion. That flag was pierced by 83 Federal bullets during that fight, and yes, this is THAT FLAG. you can see the patched places in the cloth.


Here is a close-up.

No Chickamauga-themed museum post would be complete without an example of a “Chickamauga Log,” brought back from the battlefield in the 1890s as a momento. I find these all over the place, and the Hall did not disappoint.


Here’s one, with a close up of the tag.


Flag of Austin’s Battalion Sharpshooters – 14th Louisiana Sharpshooter Battalion.


The flag of the 5th Company, Washington Artillery


Braxton Bragg’s dress uniform and sword…


Brigade commander Daniel W. Adams’s uniform…


And the bullet that wounded him on Sept 20 1863…

There were plenty more things that just blew me away. What a place.

So there you go. I was overwhelmed.  Make the effort to stop in some time.

Seminar 2018 revisited: newly renamed as “Seminar for those not bright enough to come in out of the rain, 2018”

March 19, 2018

Well, another successful Seminar in the Woods concluded on Saturday, March 10, 2018. We have now been doing this for more than 15 years, but not quite 20 – making this the moody teenage years of the Seminar. Perhaps that explains our recent weather.:)

On Friday we finished our exploration of the Battle of Resaca, focusing on the action east of I-75. We stopped in Dalton, visiting Johnston’s Headquarters (now owned by the county historical association) and also took the time to view the Joseph E. Johnston Statue in Dalton.

Johnston Statue

From there, we traveled to Resaca, visiting the Civil War Trust properties (as best we could – some of those properties have only easements) but we were able, after lunch, to dismount and spend an hour and a half emulating Ward’s Brigade of Butterfield’s Division, 20th Corps, as we stormed the Confederate outwork defended by Max Van Den Corput’s Cherokee Artillery Battery.

Battle of Resaca, Ga.

Friday was cool but not wet.


That was not true on Saturday.:)

On Saturday morning we followed Hans Heg’s brigade of Davis’ Division, the Union 20 Corps, into the timber east of the LaFayette Road and just north of Viniard Field. We emulated the advance of Heg’s small brigade as it encountered the two divisions of Hood’s Confederate Corps – Bushrod Johnson and Evander Law. The underbrush, especially the dreaded and hated privet, was already a bit of a tangle, but we departed from the 15th Wisconsin and 8th Kansas Monuments, reached the 8th Kansas advanced position marker, and then entered the Confederate lines of Gregg’s Brigade.

We also spent much of the morning enduring a steady, soaking rain.

DAvis Division 19th (noon)

we finished the day on Saturday atop Horseshoe Ridge, following the 21st Ohio, first on Hill One, then Hill Two, and finally; Hill Three. There they were joined by two more regiments, the 22nd Michigan and 89th Ohio, and discussed how they came to grief at the end of the day on September 20, in the dark and confusion of the Federal retreat.

At least the rain abated, and we were marginally more dry in the afternoon.

It was a fine weekend. We had 50 folks sign up for the bus, of which about 43 were able to attend (an unusual number of cancellations this time) and we had 42 or 43 people for each of the walks on Saturday.

Next year we intend to return to McLemore’s Cove on Friday, with Saturday’s walks to be finalized at a later date.

I have already contributed $500 in the group’s name to the Civil War Trust, and expect to contribute another $1000 to the Jewel Monument Repair Fund via the Friends of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga Parks.

Thanks to all who participated.



Seminar update: March 2018

February 17, 2018

Van Den Corput Resaca


We have filled the bus for Friday March 9. This means I am not accepting any new checks for reservations. Thank you all for your responses.

Two things to note:

First, the Chickamauga National Military Park has requested that we find some way to reduce the number of cars left in their lot on Friday – they are worried that we fill up the lower lot. Thanks to Jim Ogden’s help, I think we have a solution.

Please park in the History Company Parking Lot, using the spaces on the south side of that building. For those who don’t know, the History Company is located on the east side of LaFayette Road, just north of the park, and just south of the Sav-a-Lot grocery store.  It is within walking distance of the CCNMP visitor’s center. The owner, Louis Varnell, has graciously allowed us to use his space.

I will coordinate with the bus to make sure we check both the History Company Lot and the CCNMP lower parking lot ensure no one gets left behind, but please remember to use the History Company Lot. 

Our Bus is from Royal Charter. We will depart at 8:30 a.m. Friday, March 9. 

Second, The Civil War Trust is currently raising funds to purchase land at three sites in Tennessee – including another parcel of land at Brown’s Ferry. I believe strongly that monies raised by this group should go to land acquisition in the Chattanooga-Chickamauga area, and so I intend to make a donation of $500 towards this project, on behalf of the CCNMP Study Group. Normally I wait until we have a consensus, based on our trip, but in this case I think that acting now is the best course.

Thank you for all your contributions and participation. See you next month.

If you sent a check, and it HAS NOT cleared your bank, contact me.  If you have not yet sent a check, or if you have sent a check but not otherwise contacted me about attending, please send me an email at dpowell334@aol.com, or via Facebook. There are usually a couple of cancellations, and I will see what I can do about finding space.

Note that this year, due to some of the places we are visiting, it will be difficult if not impossible to follow us in your own vehicle.