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

4.6 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

From the Back Cover

When North and South met among the desolate mountains of northwestern Georgia in 1863, they began one of the bloodiest and most decisive campaigns of the Civil War. The climactic Battle of Chickamauga lasted just two days, yet it was nearly as costly as Gettysburg, with casualties among the highest in the war. In this study of the campaign, the first to appear in over thirty years and the most comprehensive account ever written on Chickamauga, Peter Cozzens presents a vivid narrative about an engagement that was crucial to the outcome of the war in the West. Drawing upon a wealth of previously untapped sources, Cozzens offers startling new interpretations that challenge the conventional wisdom on key moments of the battle, such as Rosecrans's fateful order to General Wood and Thomas's historic defense of Horseshoe Ridge. Chickamauga was a battle of missed opportunities, stupendous tactical blunders, and savage fighting by the men in ranks. Cozzens writes movingly of both the heroism and suffering of the common soldiers and of the strengths and tragic flaws of their commanders. Enhanced by detailed battle maps and original sketches by the noted artist Keith Rocco, this book will appeal to all Civil War enthusiasts and students of military history.
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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 (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #328,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent narrative and analysis of one of the most interesting, and often neglected, battles of the war in the West. Cozzens succeeds in getting inside the heads of both Rosecrans and Bragg, two commanders who are both essentially coming apart as the battle progresses. The sections recounting the tactical events of the battle are extremely detailed and the writing is excellent. Cozzens does an excellent job of keeping the reader oriented in the chaos of the battle, no small feat considering just how confused the fighting was on the heavily wooded battlefield. He also gives full attention to the first day of the battle, which is often glossed over. I wish I had read this before visiting Chickamauga last year and know that my next visit will be significantly more meaningful having read this book.

Having said all that, I do have a few criticisms. As in his first book, there are not enough maps and it would behoove the reader to bookmark the ones there are for easy reference. The tactical level maps are actually excellent in terms of unit movements if you keep track of where they are, but there is a dearth of large situational maps showing the battlefield as a whole. There are only two, I think, and I found myself flipping back to the first one repeatedly to find terrain features. This worked okay, but you have to try to extrapolate large scale movements and troop positions. Also, the maps that cover the campaign movements prior to the battle are almost useless. If you are not familiar with TN geography, you may want to break out a better map. Finally, be sure to familiarize yourself with the order of battle for both armies, especially the brigade commanders in each division.
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