Battle Above the Clouds: Lifting the Siege of Chattanooga and the Battle of Lookout Mountain, October 16 - November 24, 1863
In October 1863, the Union Army of the Cumberland was besieged in Chattanooga, all but surrounded by familiar opponents: The Confederate Army of Tennessee. The Federals were surviving by the narrowest of margins, thanks only to a trickle of supplies painstakingly hauled over the sketchiest of mountain roads. Soon even those quarter-rations would not suffice. Disaster was in the offing. Yet those Confederates, once jubilant at having routed the Federals at Chickamauga and driven them…

This is another travel guide in the Emerging Civil War Series provided by Savas Beatie and for members of the Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table and Civil War enthusiasts throughout the Tennessee River Valley, it close to home and follows a format similar to previous publications in the series.

David Powell provides an excellent overview of the intrigue by simply stating the personality conflicts between key leaders, both Northern and Southern, and how those rivalries may have affected the outcome of the events. He credits the Round Table’s friend and frequent speaker Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park Historian James H. Ogden III for his insight and research regarding the events surrounding Chattanooga.

For the Civil War enthusiast as well as those casually interested only because it is close to home, reading, digesting, and following the route of the events from Bridgeport, Alabama to the top of Look Out Mountain is a long day trip that will leave the traveler amazed, fully satisfied, and in awe of the challenges adversaries faced in terrain, much of which remains as it was in 1863.

The first tour is the prelude to the contested events with an adventure through the site of Wheeler’s Raid in the Sequatchie Valley beginning in Stevenson, Alabama and sites along the way, Bridgeport, Alabama, Powell’s Crossroads and Anderson’s Crossroads in Tennessee. Tour two includes Brown’s Ferry, Wauhatchie, and Lookout Mountain. There are eight maps and many photos of the leaders, monuments, and sites related to the contested area. And for those intrigued by the size and composition of military formations the author breaks down units to brigade size including their state of origin.

Not only does this particular analysis of the events provide sufficient detail for grasping the strategic and tactical implications facing the adversaries it will challenge the curious to learn more and a suggested reading list is provided.

David A. Powell met the challenge and does not disappoint any Civil War enthusiast.


Reviewed by Arley McCormick