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Failure in the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joe Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign Hardcover – December, 2010

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Failure in the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joe Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign + The Chickamauga Campaign - A Mad Irregular Battle: From the Crossing of Tennessee River Through the Second Day, August 22 - September 19, 1863
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Savas Beatie; First Edition edition (December 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932714871
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932714876
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


" … a richly detailed and elegantly written study full of insightful tactical commentary, new perspectives on the strategic role of the rebel horseman, and fresh insights on every engagement, large and small, waged during the bloody North Georgia campaign" --James Durney, 10/2010

More 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 result of that study is his first published book, The Maps of Chickamauga. His second work, Failure in the Saddle, examines the role played by Confederate cavalry in that campaign.

David lives and works in Chicago, Illinois, where he owns and operates a delivery company.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
A very important book for anyone interested in the Civil War.
A. A. Nofi
This easy to follow book is an account of how Braxton Bragg's cavalry commander's failed him in the 1863 campaigns around Chattanooga and Chickamauga.
Mark Longstroth
In short, I found this book highly informative and well researched and written.
Don Lowry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Would you like to go on a battlefield walk in Chickamauga?" Answering "yes" to this question introduced the author to me. Each year, I spend a weekend in March following him from site to site marveling at his knowledge of the Chickamauga Campaign. If you are listing experts, David Powell will be very high on the list.
The book opens with a look at the leaders of Bragg's cavalry from Corps to Brigade, starting with Joe Wheeler and Nathan Forrest and the strained relationship between these men, Wheeler a West Pointer and Bragg supporter just is not a fighter like Forrest. Following is a detailed look at Bragg's Cavalry, training, discipline, accomplishments and failures.
With this foundation, we quickly cover Tullahoma. Coverage of the Union movement from Chattanooga gives us an understanding of Bragg's problems and the challenge of determining their route. Done in a straightforward manner this section makes clear complex issues and the importance of cavalry to a Civil War army. Using his knowledge, experience and considerable ability, David shows us the cavalry's influence on the campaign and actions during battle. The reader sees cavalry theory as practiced by the Army of Tennessee in 1863, a story of personalities, ambition and management going awry at a critical time.
The heart of the book is a detailed look at CSA Cavalry operations leading up to, during and after the Battle of Chickamauga. This is not a pretty picture, showing how little good information Bragg had. Both Wheeler and Forrest fail, for different reasons, to provide realistic timely information. Wheeler, often disobedient, consistently is out of position or making bad decisions. Forrest suffers from being a new Corps commander having a Division or Brigade commander mentality.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By James F. Epperson on February 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nathan Bedford Forrest is a figure of almost mythical stature in Confederate memory, but in this long-needed corrective study Dave Powell trims him down to appropriate size, while at the same time showing that his fellow Confederate, Joe Wheeler, not only ran a loose ship (something well known to Civil War historians) but was generally incompetent and insubordinate. In the process, Powell demonstrates that much of the disaster that befell the Confederacy in Tennessee and Georgia during the summer and fall of 1863 is not exclusively due to the oft-maligned Braxton Bragg, commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, but can be blamed on the failure of his cavalry commanders, Wheeler and Forrest.

Civil War cavalry was not thought of as a major offensive weapon until late in the war. The primary duty of cavalry in this time and place was scouting and screening, serving as the eyes and ears of the main army. (A secondary function was the cavalry raid, in which small, quick-moving forces would penetrate enemy lines, destroy facilities and supplies, and then return [it was hoped] to the safety of their own lines.)

In the spring of 1863, Bragg had a substantial advantage in cavalry over his opposite number, Union Major-General William Rosecrans, commanding the Army of the Cumberland. Bragg had two full cavalry corps, much more than Rosecrans, and 16,000 mounted men compared to 11,000 in the Army of the Cumberland. (In fact, much of the delay in starting active campaigning that summer was due to efforts by Rosecrans to build up and improve his mounted force.) But in the ensuing Tullahoma and Chickamauga campaigns, his cavalry would let Bragg down and leave him in the dark about enemy plans and intentions, time and time again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tom DeFranco on March 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
On the heels of Maps Of Chickamauga, Dave Powell brings to life an account of Confederate cavalry operations from the Tullahoma campaign through the immediate aftermath of their "barren victory" at Chickamauga. Along with Dr. Glenn Robertson and Jim Ogden, Dave is one of three people who could honestly be considered an expert on the Tullahoma/Chickamauga/Chattanooga campaigns of the Civil War. One of Dave's hallmarks is his indefatigable research and an ability to convey what he discovers to the reader in a thorough but concise manner. He accomplishes this again with Failure In The Saddle.

History has not treated Confederate General Braxton Bragg very kindly. With his surly, irascible manner, along with some errors in the field, he had done much to bring that on himself. From late June through late September 1863, however, he had a good deal of help in turning what might have been a true setback for the Federal Army of the Cumberland into nothing more than a pyrrhic victory for the South. In fact, Bragg's top cavalry leaders, Joseph Wheeler and the vaunted Nathan Bedford Forrest were often found wanting during the campaigns in middle Tennessee and northwest Georgia throughout the summer of 1863.

Once battle is joined, the cavalry often takes a secondary role in the action. On campaign, however, the cavalry's role is magnified. A good cavalry commander will conduct reconnaissance, screen his army's activities from the enemy and guard his army's flanks. The army commander will take the intelligence gained from his cavalry and use that to his best advantage when formulating his battle plans. If that intel is bad, it is likely to be a long and bloody day for the army. Dave explains how Wheeler's sloth (and sometimes sheer insubordination) failed Bragg in major ways.
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