Preview: Powell, “The Chickamauga Campaign: Barren Victory”

24 09 2016

Layout 1The third and final volume of David A. Powell’s history of The Chickamauga Campaign – Barren Victory: The Retreat into Chattanooga, the Confederate Pursuit, and the Aftermath of Battle, September 21 to October 20, 1863, has been released by publisher Savas Beatie. (You can find my notes on the first two volumes here and here.)

This completes the most thorough history of the campaign to date. Volume III is a mixed bag, wrapping up the first two volumes and providing meat and potatoes statistics and research tidbits that all footnote readers will enjoy. The narrative portion of the book picks up on the morning of September 21, with both armies dealing with the immediate effects of defeat and victory. Three chapters follow both armies to the environs of Chattanooga. Two chapters discuss the costs and consequences of the campaign, and appendices deal with rear guard cavalry action in The Last Clash at Chickamauga and the relationship between William Rosecrans, James Garfield, and Charles Dana.

Then the fun begins. In a manner reminiscent of Joseph L. Harsh’s wonderful Sounding the Shallows, Powell offers the reader insight into both the numbers of the thing and the researching and writing process itself. Five appendices include: Union Order of Battle; Union Losses; Confederate Strength with Sources and Methodology (arranged in Order of Battle format); Confederate Losses (Powell provides the most detailed and complete look at Confederate numbers and losses to be found); and a Return for Polk’s Corps for October 22, 1863.

These are followed by a magnificent 85 page (!) bibliography. Powell’s extensive use of newspaper accounts from all points of the compass is impressively displayed. The different contemporary newspapers from which he drew number approximately 150!

The whole book is complimented with bottom of the page, detailed footnotes (with the exception of the Union OOB through Confederate Losses appendices which employ end-notes for purposes of style).

This is a great capstone to Powell’s take on the Chickamauga campaign (and let’s not forget his Campaign Atlas and his iconoclastic look at Confederate cavalry during this time, Failure in the Saddle). Don’t miss it.



8 responses

24 09 2016
Ted Savas

Thank you for this preview, Harry. We all appreciate it.

The 3 vols of “The Chickamauga Campaign” surely is David Powell’s magnum opus, and it will stand the test of time for decades, and perhaps much longer. Add in the other two vols as you noted (“Maps of Chickamauga” and “Failure in the Saddle”) and one must stand in awe of this man’s efforts.

The hyphen-less publisher.


Liked by 1 person

24 09 2016
Dave Powell

Thanks, Harry, for this preview. The monumental work is done, and I am not sure I know what to do with myself.

Liked by 1 person

24 09 2016
Harry Smeltzer

How about 4 volumes on Gettysburg. Everyone NEEDS more Gettysburg.

Liked by 1 person

24 09 2016
John Foskett

Or Dave can finally be unleashed on Resaca, Jonesboro, etc. I mean, if he’s got all that time on his hands……..


27 09 2016

the battle, to me is the most interesting battle of the Civil WAR. mY great grand father was Alexander McCook, he was relieveD of duty before this battle.TO me this battle was a greater victory for the NORTH THAN ANY BATTLE OF THE CIVIL WAR EXCEPT FOR SHILOH .I WOULD LIKE ALL THREE BOOKS

Liked by 1 person

27 09 2016
Dave Powell

Frederic, That is very cool. I am pretty sympathetic to Alexander McCook. He was actually relieved right after this battle, and even though he was cleared by a court of inquiry, he was not returned to command. Still, he had a very successful post-war army career.

You can order the books via Amazon, or, alternatively, direct from the Publisher at

You can call them at : Voice: 916-941-6896

Thanks again.


Liked by 1 person

27 09 2016
Theodore Savas

Personally, I would order directly from the publisher. They include signed author book plates, and the books always arrive in mint-new condition. :)

Liked by 1 person

3 07 2017
Preview: Powell, “Battle Above the Clouds” | Bull Runnings

[…] David A. Powell is a VMI graduate and author of numerous works and articles on the Chickamauga Campaign, most recently Barren Victory. […]


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