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This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga (Civil War Trilogy) Paperback – November 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews


"Expertly renders the furious ebb and flow of the two-day battle capturing both the evolving strategies of each side and the horrendous experience of the fight... [This book] is built upon a bonanza of primary research, with the author having combed hundreds of diaries, letters, memoirs, interviews, official reports and regimental histories. The individual voices and the rich experiences they represent are unforgettably presented here." -- New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (November 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252065948
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252065941
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #569,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Cozzens is the author of sixteen critically acclaimed books on the American Civil War and the Indian Wars of the American West. He also is a Foreign Service Officer with the U. S. Department of State.

All of Cozzens' books have been selections of the Book of the Month Club, History Book Club, and/or the Military Book Club. Cozzens' This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga and The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battles for Chattanooga were both Main Selections of the History Book Club and were chosen by Civil War Magazine as two of the 100 greatest works ever written on the conflict.

The prestigious Easton Press included This Terrible Sound as one of thirty-five volumes in its Library of the Civil War.

The History Book Club called his five-volume Eyewitnesses to the Indian Wars "the definitive resource on the military struggle for the American West."

Cozzens also was the creator of and series editor for Stackpole Books' Frontier Classics.

In 2002 Cozzens received of the American Foreign Service Association's highest award, given annually to one Foreign Service Officer for exemplary moral courage, integrity, and creative dissent. He also received an Alumni Achievement award from his alma mater Knox College, from which he graduated summa cum laude.

Cozzens is a member of the Advisory Council of the Lincoln Prize, the nation's foremost literary award in history after the Pulitzer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Ken Howes on December 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This history of the battle of Chickamauga moves with a pace and a style that is reminiscent of Solzhenitsyn's August 1914. It chronicles the Union Army's plunge forward into the woods of northwest Georgia, to find that a Confederate Army that had been fleeing was not only no longer fleeing--it was counterattacking and was now larger than its erstwhile pursuers.
The descriptions are the most vivid and the telling of the story the best that I have ever read in 40 years of reading Civil War material. By the time one is finished reading, one has come to know almost as personal acquaintances not only the great figures of the battle--Bragg, Rosecrans, Longstreet--but others one might not otherwise have known. Hans Heg in particular, the Norwegian immigrant from Wisconsin whose brigade was left virtually alone to face the onslaught of Longstreet's attack, becomes such a sympathetic character that I became misty-eyed as he met his death. Union generals Lytle,Wilder and Willich are likewise memorable figures, as are on the Confederate side Helm and Liddell. Less sympathetic figures are future president James Garfield, political observer Charles Dana and Confederate general Billy Bate, who emerge as pompous, self-promoting blowhards.
This battle, and the failure of the Confederates to exploit their partial success, may have been more of a turning point of the Civil War than was Gettysburg. It was not at Gettysburg but at Chickamauga that the First Corps, best in the Confederate Army, made its last great attack, and it succeeded only to watch Braxton Bragg fritter away success. This is the best account of that battle that you will read.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Randall L. Golden on March 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the most detailed retelling of the battle of Chickamauga I have ever read. This may be good, it may be bad. It took me about 100 pages to get used to Cozzens style, and even after that I was still overwhelmed with detail. Was it the 23rd Tennessee in Brock Field or the 19th Illinois at Snodgrass Cabin? You will know for sure after reading this book.
The problem is that Mr. Cozzens pounds you with such detail that you might miss some of the best parts of the book. Early on, Gen. George Thomas has sent Col John Croxton to flush a Rebel brigade. Croxton runs headlong into Forrest's cavalry, then is attacked by Claudius Wilson's Georgians. He wires Thomas "Which of the four or five brigades in front of me should I flush out"?
And Cozzens portrayal of Bragg as a mind-numbed leader and Rosecrans as a ranting lunatic is somewhat off-base. And while this was truely a soldier's battle, Cozzens frequently ends up giving short shift to the generals.
If you want to read this book, here's how to get through it. Download the entire series of maps of Chickamauga from [...] As you are reading the book, study the maps. Also buy Chickamauga:A Battlefield Guide by Steven Woodworth as a study guide. You'll make it through it. I did.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Darryl L. Walker on January 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
The author has managed to thoroughly detail every event and person that is important to this battle within this book. Yes, some parts of the book are laborious and boring, yet, the author's attention to the details of strategic placement and movement of the two armies, and the time devoted to explaining the significance of many facets of the battle, no doubt make this book the best there is about the Chickamauga campaign. Cozzens provides a number of interesting and emotion-gripping stories of the human tragedies that occurred on the battlefield. Cozzens also helps the reader understand the thinking of Bragg, Rosecrans, Thomas, Polk, and other commanders in dealing with the dissention among themselves in staging the battle and the confusion and utter chaos that takes place on the battlefield. The author includes adequate, although somewhat difficult to read, maps of the movements of the armies at various stages of the battle. In the end, the Confederate Army of the West wins, but Bragg fails to follow through to ensure a complete defeat of the Union forces. There will be times when the overwhelming details presented in this work will put you to sleep, but stick with it and you'll find every important fact worth knowing about Chickamauga contained in this book.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tim Weber on May 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
To those reviewers who criticized Peter Cozzens' writing: What, exactly, were you reading? Cozzens does a marvelous job of bringing history to vivid life. "This Terrible Sound" is well-written, well-organized and reveals marvelously complete research. Yes, it is detailed, but the book is 675 pages long! What did you expect? Admittedly, there are times in the middle of the book when the story is confusing, and a few photos of the participants certainly would have been welcome, but overall this is the kind of Civil War history I love. I want detail. I especially love the many quoted sources here; I want the participants to tell the story as much as possible, and Cozzens allows that. This is a big step forward from the still-good "No Better Place to Die." But read on; "The Shipwreck of their Hopes" is better yet.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Moody on August 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
The year 1863 was truly a seminal one for the American Civil War...the famous battles at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Vicksburg have all been imminently researched and expounded upon with many very excellent histories published throughout the years. The same unfortunately cannot be said for the equally pivotal and provocative battle at Chickamauga Creek in northwest Georgia (Spetember 1863). Peter Cozzens, then, has added greatly to the abundance of published Civil War histories with "This Terrible Sound", a modern study of this battle that correctly places it in it's proper context as a major turning point for the Western theatre and indeed the entire war.

Following the Federal victory at Vicksburg, President Lincoln sensing a momentum swing to the Northern effort, places his next great emphasis on the Union Army of the Cumberland, stationed at Murfreesboro, Tennessee following the Federal "victory" at the battle of Stones River (essentially a standoff with the Confederates retreating following the battle). William Stark Rosecrans' Federal force is "encouraged" to attack and subdue the rail center at Chattanooga...with the ultimate goal of using it as the base for further invasion efforts in the South. Defending the roads to Chattanooga, is Confederate General Braxton Bragg, the much maligned and, at the time of Chickamauga, the very ill leader of the rebel forces. Cozzens establishes both a physical and mental picture of both Generals that is neither favorable or complimentary. Regardless, Rosecrans establishes the immediate advantage with a detailed and complex troop movement that faces off with and defeates the Confederates at Tullahoma. Outnumbered and in disarray, the rebels retreat to Chattanooga and await Rosecrans next movement.
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