Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New and Noteworthy: 1863, The Volunteer State, Longstreet and Burnside

The Knoxville Campaign: Burnside and Longstreet in East Tennessee, Earl J. Hess, University of Tennessee Press, 440 pp., notes, bibliography, maps, photographs, $39.95

From the Publisher: In the fall and winter of 1863, Union General Ambrose Burnside and Confederate General James Longstreet vied for control of the city of Knoxville and with it the railroad that linked the Confederacy east and west. The generals and their men competed, too, for the hearts and minds of the people of East Tennessee. Often overshadowed by the fighting at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, this important campaign has never received a full scholarly treatment. In this landmark book, award-winning historian Earl J. Hess fills a gap in Civil War scholarship—a timely contribution that coincides with and commemorates the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

The East Tennessee campaign was an important part of the war in the West. It brought the conflict to Knoxville in a devastating way, forcing the Union defenders to endure two weeks of siege in worsening winter conditions. The besieging Confederates suffered equally from supply shortages, while the civilian population was caught in the middle and the town itself suffered widespread destruction. The campaign culminated in the famed attack on Fort Sanders early on the morning of November 29, 1863. The bloody repulse of Longstreet’s veterans that morning contributed significantly to the unraveling of Confederate hopes in the Western theater of operations.
Hess’s compelling account is filled with numerous maps and images that enhance the reader’s understanding of this vital campaign that tested the heart of East Tennessee. The author’s narrative and analysis will appeal to a broad audience, including general readers, seasoned scholars, and new students of Tennessee and Civil War history. The Knoxville Campaign will thoroughly reorient our view of the war as it played out in the mountains and valleys of East Tennessee.

“Hess’s account of the understudied Knoxville Campaign sheds new light on the generalship of James Longstreet and Ambrose Burnside, as well as such lesser players as Micah Jenkins and Orlando Poe. Both scholars and general readers should welcome it. The scholarship is sound, the research, superb, the writing, excellent.” —Steven E. Woodworth, author of Decision in the Heartland: The Civil War in the West

"Applying his discerning eye to yet another important but neglected aspect of the Civil War, Hess provides us now with the most though and professional examination of the Knoxville campaign we have, or are ever likely to have." —William J. Marvel, author of Tarnished Victory: Finishing Lincoln’s War
“Anyone who believes that everything significant that could be said about the Civil War has already been written must also be unfamiliar with Earl J. Hess, whose books tend to make historians studying the same subjects consider choosing other ones instead. The Knoxville Campaign, often overlooked or even dismissed as largely insignificant, can now be understood in its proper context at last. Operations in East Tennessee have never been so closely examined, so vividly described, and so convincingly explained as Hess does here in the first comprehensive study of this campaign and its impact on Union and Confederate strategy in the Western Theater.” —J. Tracy Power, author of Lee’s Miserables: Life in the Army of Northern Virginia from the Wilderness to Appomattox

EARL J. HESS is Stewart W. McClelland Distinguished Professor in Humanities and an associate professor of history at Lincoln Memorial University. He is the author of nearly twenty books, including The Civil War in the West—Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi and Lincoln Memorial University and the Shaping of Appalachia.

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