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Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861-1865 Paperback – October 17, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The Union's military effort in the first half of the Civil War remains essentially defined by the Army of the Potomac: earnest and willing, but consistently outfought and outgeneraled. A similar image accompanies the Army of the Cumberland, the second most familiar Union field army. But in the Mississippi Valley, the North developed an army that defeated all comers from Shiloh to Savannah, participated in the war's decisive battles from Fort Donelson through Vicksburg to Atlanta, and raised some of the war's finest generals. Until now, the Army of the Tennessee has been relatively neglected—perhaps because it fails to fit the Union stereotype of triumphing by force rather than finesse. Woodworth, a historian at Texas Christian University who has written several books on the Civil War (Beneath a Northern Sky; A Scythe of Fire; etc.), corrects this oversight in what is arguably the best one-volume history written to date of a Civil War field army. Combining impeccable scholarship and comfortable style, Woodworth describes a force whose tone was set by volunteer regiments from the farms and small towns of the Mississippi Valley: Iowa, Illinois, Missouri. Already accustomed to hard work and rough living, these men readily learned how to march and fight. Though Woodworth credits the army's unique combination of steadiness and aggressiveness to its first commander, Ulysses S. Grant, he details how the Army of the Tennessee learned war from other masters as well: West Point graduates, like William Sherman and James McPherson; civilian corps commanders, like "Black Jack" Logan and Frank Blair; and hundreds of field and company officers who learned their craft on the job and who led by example rather than by order. They made the Army of the Tennessee the Union's whiplash in the West and one of the three or four most formidable large formations in America's military history. (Oct. 28)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A veteran Civil War military historian, Woodworth specializes in the western campaigns, in which the Union's premier force was the Army of the Tennessee. Raised from Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, its commanders over time were Grant, Halleck, Sherman, and McPherson, and Woodworth's narrative duly oscillates between the headquarters tent and the soldiers' campfire. Typical of Civil War armies, this one was affected at the top by political machinations, whose negative effects on field operations Woodworth astutely analyzes; Grant's eventual surmounting of these obstacles earns the author's unqualified respect. For to the extent any military unit possesses a personality, this army had Grant's. Woodworth concludes that, besides strategic acumen exhibited in the Vicksburg campaign, Grant imparted to his officers the principle of relentless advance, which kept morale high and Confederate forces off balance. As to the soldiers' thoughts, which were of home and victory, Woodworth ably crafts them into his account of the army's battles, from Shiloh to Chattanooga to Georgia. Balanced and readable, Woodworth's work is an exemplary army-level unit history. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
many folks seem to think the war was entirely in Virginia, between
the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac. In
fact, much of importance took place in the Western Theatre, where
one of the principal Union armies was the Army of the Tennessee.
It is almost shocking to consider that, until this book, no one
had written a history of the Army of the Tennessee. The army is
mostly associated with U.S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman;
it was formed from the force that Grant used to seize Paducah,
Kentucky, in the early days of the war and grew to the force
that took Forts Henry and Donelson, fought the savage action of
Shiloh, took Vicksburg, fought the Battle of Atlanta, and then
marched to the sea. The men came from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, and Kentucky.
(There was even a regiment from Nebraska!)
The book starts out very well. Woodworth describes the war
fever in the Midwest which led so many men into the ranks and
provided the army with many of its leaders. He then progresses
into the narrative of campaigns, first under Grant, then under
Sherman. As a summary story of the western theatre of the war,
the book is outstanding.
Alas, the book is not perfect. Many have commented on the lack
of maps, a criticism I share. Woodworth's focus is also uneven.
At the beginning, the reader is treated to biographical sketches
of many of the men who would lead divisions in the army, but this
ceases after awhile, and the book is poorer for it. One could
also launch into a small list of omissions and errors, something
almost any book has. But the bottom line is that this is a
very well-written book which tells a story that needs to be
told. Buy it, read it, enjoy it. You'll be glad you did.