As we continue the roll-out of our spring Emerging Civil War Series titles, we’re pleased to welcome award-winning writer Dave Powell to the series. Dave, a regular contributor with ECW, is following up his incredible Chickamauga Campaign trilogy with a lighter treatment of the Chattanooga Campaign. Chattanooga, of course, serves as the follow-up to—and direct result of—the battle of Chickamauga.
Dave’s two-part retelling of Chattanooga comes out this June: Battle Above the Clouds: Lifting the Siege of Chattanooga and the Battle of Lookout Mountain, October 16-November 24, 1864.
“Too often, the Civil War actions at Wauhatchie (October 28-29, 1863) and Lookout Mountain November 24, 1863) are treated as an opening act—the curtain-raiser for the main event, Missionary Ridge on November 25,” Dave says. “But while the earlier fights lacked the scale of the storming of Missionary Ridge, they did not lack significance. Wauhatchie ensured that the Union supply line to Chattanooga remained viable, sustaining George Thomas’s army in that place. Similarly, success on Lookout Mountain ensured that a Union force could move against the Rebel southern flank on Missionary Ridge, and as it turned out, that subsequent attack proved crucial to Grant’s overall success. That is why I believe that both Wauhatchie and Lookout Mountain deserve a closer look and to have their stories told as the men who participated in those engagements wanted them told.”
Dave has spent a great deal of time at Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, so he knows the story well. “For years I traveled to Chattanooga thinking solely of Chickamauga,” Dave admits. “I usually just drove past Lookout Mountain and the Cravens House rather than stop and reflect. Now, I almost always stop, especially at the Cravens House, where I have gained a new appreciation of the events that occurred there.”
Walking the ground is a vital part of Dave’s writing process. “My process with any writing project is to start with the words of the men who were there, to absorb what they saw and felt,” he explains. “I also want to go see the terrain, to place their words in context. This was certainly true for Lookout Mountain. Finally, when it comes time to set my version of that story down on paper, I then weave as much eyewitness experience into the narrative as I can. I like, where possible, to juxtapose opposing accounts. In Battle Above the Clouds I used accounts from men in the 40th Alabama and 40th Ohio, who encountered each other on the Cravens shelf.”
The second of Dave’s two Chattanooga books—which focuses on the attack against Missionary Ridge and the lifting of the siege—will follow next year.
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From the Back Cover:
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 back into the apparent trap of Chattanooga’s trenches, found their own circumstances increasingly difficult to bear. In the immediate aftermath of their victory, the South rejoiced; the Confederacy’s own disasters of the previous summer—Vicksburg and Gettysburg—were seemingly reversed. Then came stalemate in front of those same trenches. The Confederates held the high ground, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, but they could not completely seal off Chattanooga from the north.
The Union responded. Reinforcements were on the way. A new man arrived to take command: Ulysses S. Grant. Confederate General Braxton Bragg, unwilling to launch a frontal attack on Chattanooga’s defenses, sought victory elsewhere, diverting troops to East Tennessee.
Battle above the Clouds by David Powell recounts the first half of the campaign to lift the siege of Chattanooga, including the opening of the “cracker line,” the unusual night battle of Wauhatchie, and one of the most dramatic battles of the entire war: Lookout Mountain.
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About the Author:
David A. Powell is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (1983) with a BA in history. He has published numerous articles in various magazines, and more than fifteen historical simulations of different battles. For the past decade, David’s focus has been on the epic battle of Chickamauga, and he is nationally recognized for his tours of that important battlefield. The results of that study are the volumes The Maps of Chickamauga (2009) and Failure in the Saddle (2010), as well as The Chickamauga Campaign trilogy. The Chickamauga Campaign: A Mad Irregular Battle was published in 2014, The Chickamauga Campaign: Glory or the Grave appeared in September 2015, and the final volume, Barren Victory, was released in September 2016. David and his wife Anne live and work in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. He is Vice President of Airsped, Inc., a specialized delivery firm.