The Chickamauga Campaign: Glory or the Grave and The Chickamauga Campaign: Barren Victory by David A. Powell

Reviewed by Lee Hattabaugh, Tennessee Valley Civil War Roundtable

The Chickamauga Campaign was a series of battles and maneuvering from Aug. 21 to Sept. 20, 1863 in northwest Georgia, fought between the Union’s Army of the Cumberland and the Confederacy’s Army of Tennessee. The North eventually won the war, but the battle of Chickamauga was a crucial victory for the South.

The Chickamauga Campaign: Glory of the Grave
The Chickamauga Campaign: Glory of the Grave

   Author David Powell has completed the second and third volumes in what is considered the best in-depth study of the Chickamauga Campaign. These are The Chickamauga Campaign: Glory or the Grave, and The Chickamauga Campaign: Barren Victory. Powell’s magnificent study fully explores the battle from all perspectives and is based upon over fifteen years of intensive study and research that has uncovered nearly 2,000 primary sources from generals to private, all stitched together to relate the remarkable story that was Chickamauga. Using a plethora of first-hand accounts and regimental studies, many of which have never been heard of or read about, Powell takes the reader on a journey into the soldier’s lives and actions during their time in Tennessee and Georgia in 1863.

The Chickamauga Campaign: Barren Victory
The Chickamauga Campaign: Barren Victory

   In Glory or the Grave, published in 2015, the actions of September 20, 1863 are presented and discussed. The book was awarded the prestigious Richard B. Harwell Book Award for best book on a Civil War subject published in 2015. Barren Victory appeared in 2016 and provides the close of the battle and the entire campaign from September 21 to October 20, 1863, and contains additional sources for research, an extensive bibliography, and various appendices on the battle, battlefield, and the surrounding north Georgia and southeastern Tennessee areas.

Although not required reading, Mr. Powell’s previously published work, The Maps of Chickamauga, is a very helpful resource when reading the trilogy. The maps really help visualize the action(s) described in the book, especially if you’re reading about the battle for the first time or if you are tracking down the movements of a particular regiment or brigade across the hills and valleys of North Georgia.

Also, for those of you who just can’t seem to get enough information on the battles and events surrounding the Chickamauga and Chattanooga campaigns, David Powell has a blog, Chickamauga Blog (https://chickamaugablog.wordpress.com/).