Category Archives: Western Theater

Primary Sources: Thoughts and Favorites

A primary source is defined as one produced by an eyewitness to an event offering their recollections. Some primary sources provide just basic facts with limited additional details. Other sources, like battle reports, provide more details but often offer little … Continue reading

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The Final Legacy of the Civil War Generation

The Civil War reshaped and defined the United States in ways still very visible today. That is enough for one generation, right? Yet the Civil War generation also led the United States throughout the late 19th Century of industrialization, expansion, … Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 12/17-12/23/18

We’ve been talking about the Battle of Fredericksburg a lot recently…so let’s give the Western Theater and campaigns in the deep South some attention. In your opinion, which winter battle/campaign in those regions was most important? Why?

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Railroads: The Louisville and Nashville Railroad

It is often underappreciated how the Louisville & Nashville Railroad’s status impacted the operations of Major General W.S. Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland. I discuss it in this except from my book about Stones River and Tullahoma: Throughout … Continue reading

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Chief Joseph: If not for Howard, “there would have been no war”

My favorite description of Oliver Otis Howard comes from historian Frank O’Reilly, who has called him “pious but vapid.” After the twin disasters that befell Howard’s Eleventh Corps at Chancellorsville and then, two months later, at Gettysburg, it’s always been … Continue reading

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Polk’s Resting Place

Leonidas Polk remains something of an elusive figure to military historians. He owed his high rank to his friendship with Jefferson Davis. But Polk could have risen up the officer ranks on his own. He was charismatic, well-connected, wealthy, and … Continue reading

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Unvexed Waters: Mississippi River Squadron, Part 2

Part I of this post introduced the unprecedented U.S. Army Western Gunboat Flotilla—soon to be reorganized as the U.S. Navy Mississippi River Squadron—and carried it through the victorious battles of Forts Henry and Donelson, Tennessee, in February 1862. The next … Continue reading

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The Dead Angle

“The Dead Angle,” from Sam Watkins’ Co. Aytch, Chapter XII: The First and Twenty-seventh Tennessee Regiments will ever remember the battle of “Dead Angle,” which was fought June 27th, on the Kennesaw line, near Marietta, Georgia. It was one of … Continue reading

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Wood-Choppers Along the Kennesaw Line

“The battles of the Kennesaw line were fought for weeks. Cannonading and musketry firing was one continual thing. It seemed that shooting was the order of the day, and pickets on both sides kept up a continual firing, that sounded … Continue reading

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Unvexed Waters: Mississippi River Squadron, Part I

History offers few examples other than the Civil War and Vietnam of extensive operations on inland shallow waters involving specialized classes of war vessels commanded and manned by naval personnel. The struggle for the Mississippi River, the spine of America, … Continue reading

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