Emerging Civil War has announced the recipient of its inaugural book award: Grant Invades Tennessee: The 1862 Battles for Forts Henry and Donelson by Timothy B. Smith, Ph.D., published by the University Press of Kansas.
“Tim Smith continues to do ground-breaking work illuminating the Western Tennessee campaigns,” said ECW’s Chris Kolakowski, author of books on Perryville, Stones River, and 1862 summer/fall campaigns in the Eastern Theater.
The Emerging Civil War Book Award recognizes a work of Civil War history with a public history focus. Recipients are chosen by ECW’s stable of published authors, making the award the only peer-to-peer award given by Civil War writers to Civil War writers. This year’s award was given to a book published in 2016.
“I am extremely grateful to be the first recipient of the Emerging Civil War Book of the Year Award,” Smith said. “Emerging Civil War is a delightful consortium of historians and knowledge, and is doing a wonderful job of promoting the study of the war. As such, to be named the inaugural winner of their book award is both humbling and gratifying. I thank them for their efforts, and for their confidence in my work.”
Smith’s book was chosen from a field of three finalists that also included Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln & The Union’s War Governors by Stephen D. Engle and Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man in the Confederacy by Earl Hess, both published by the University of North Carolina Press.
“Grant Invades Tennessee is an outstanding addition to the historiography of the Civil War’s Western Theater and lives up to the high standard that Tim set with his earlier tomes on Shiloh and early battlefield preservation,” said ECW’s Chief Historian, Kristopher D. White. “Thorough research, combined with artful storytelling, really made this work stand out.”
ECW’s David Powell, author of award-winning books on Chickamauga, said, “Tim Smith’s understand and analysis of Ulysses S. Grant’s western campaigns is second to none. That mastery is on full display here, in his work on Forts Henry and Donelson. Rich in tactical detail, Smith nevertheless fully examines the strategic context of the campaign, and especially what the fall of Fort Henry meant for the Confederacy’s hopes of defending the Southern heartland.”
Grant Invades Tennessee serves as a companion volume to a pair of earlier works, Corinth 1862: Siege, Battle, Occupation (2012) and Shiloh: Conquer or Perish (2014), both also published by Kansas. “Tim Smith has completed his trilogy in splendid fashion,” said ECW’s Co-Managing Editor Daniel T. Davis, co-author of four books in the Emerging Civil War Series. “Through quick paced and engaging prose he has chronicled a critical period which impacted and defined Union and Confederate strategy in the Western Theater and introduced the world to Ulysses S. Grant.”
Smith teaches history at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He is the author of many books, including The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and the Battlefield; Rethinking Shiloh: Myth and Memory; The Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation, and several works related to Mississippi in the Civil War.
Emerging Civil War writers also offered praise for the other two book award finalists.
Of Hess’ book, Dave Powell said, “Hess has turned his prolific spotlight on Braxton Bragg, the Civil War community’s favorite punching bag. This new military biography does much to restore Bragg’s place as a commander of note. While Hess pulls no punches in examining Bragg’s faults, he also deals out fair praise for Bragg’s underappreciated qualities as a commander and strategist.”
In a review for Civil War Book Review, ECW Editor-in-Chief Chris Mackowski said, “Hess’s sympathetic but balanced reassessment should give readers ample reason to reconsider any long-held assumptions and prejudices. . . . Braxton Bragg succeeds in recasting ‘the most hated man in the Confederacy’ into one of the most interesting.”
ECW’s Meg Groeling, author of The Aftermath of Battle: The Burial of the Civil War Dead, singled out Engle’s book for praise. “Engle’s brilliant offering reminds his readers that the act of forming a more perfect union was never more clearly shown than in the efforts of Lincoln’s war governors,” Groeling said of the other book award finalist. “Engle has given the Civil War community a fine book that will resonate for a long time.”