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5.0 out of 5 starsBest summary of Battle above the clouds
Reviewed in the United States on February 26, 2019
This short book makes it clear where everyone was in connection with the battle above the clouds. The first book I have found that gets that done. I bad addition to the book is the sort of new deal historic trashing of Grant which seemed more a political attack then factual. Makes me want to go back and tour the battlefield, excellent pictures of the monuments to the units involved.
5.0 out of 5 starsReally easy to read book. Made for basic understanding. Not something for someone knowing something about it. But saying that. The tour guide piece is awesome. I visited the battlefield the other week and it made it very easy to find the sites. And at 9 dollars. You can’t beat it. I enjoy the entire series of books.
Reviewed in the United States on August 3, 2019
Really easy to read book. Made for basic understanding and does its job. If you are looking for a deep dive. This is not the book for you. But it is an awesome tour book. Used it the other week to view the sites
4.0 out of 5 starsA very good read but there is a lot of wasted space ...
Reviewed in the United States on December 12, 2017
A very good read but there is a lot of wasted space in the text. At least 1/3 of each page is blank white space. My review would have been five stars if the photo illustrations had been better. Most were so dark that they were worthless.
5.0 out of 5 starsDavid Powell and ECW series do not disappoint once again
Reviewed in the United States on September 16, 2017
David Powell and ECW series do not disappoint once again. This was an excellent follow up to Lee White's ECW title "Bushwhacking on a Grand Scale" The Battle of Chickamauga. The book was a clear and easy read and can point the reader in many directions should they wish to follow up and dive into more detail about these pivotal first stages of breaking the siege at Chattanooga.
Page for page the Emerging Civil War Series is the best buy in books available. Each book presents a short concise informative narrative complemented by maps, photographs and illustrations. The result is both a guide book and a history lesson at an attractive price. The battle for Lookout Mountain is one of the memorable moments of the war. It was fought in the view or hearing of thousands of men with little to do but watch. This resulted in a small battle being mentioned and remembered more so than most battles this size. The battle itself is important for several reasons. This is an important early step in driving Bragg away from Chattanooga and opening the road to Atlanta. Additionally, this battle is the first step in Joe Hooker and some elements of the Army of the Potomac rebuilding their reputation after Chancellorsville. While Lookout Mountain is the most important battle, the smaller battles that open the “Cracker Line” and make this attack possible are not omitted. Taken together, this book covers the small campaign that opens the way for the Battle of Chattanooga. David Powell combines extensive knowledge with the ability to write producing a clear informative easy to read text. This is one of several books on Chickamauga and Chattanooga by him. All of them are worth having in your library and taken together form as completed a picture as is available.
Battle Above The Clouds: Lifting the Siege of Chattanooga and the Battle Of Lookout Mountain October 16 – November 24, 1863, David A. Powell, Savas Beatie, California, 2017, 170 pages, a Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table Review by Edward Kennedy USA (Retired)
When MajGen William S. Rosecran’s Army of the Cumberland was tactically defeated on Chickamauga battlefield on 20 September 1863, the Union Army streamed back into Chattanooga on its line of communication to Nashville. Confederate General Bragg, having no branch or sequel plan for tactical battlefield success, surrendered the operational initiative by allowing the Union Army to escape and re-form in Chattanooga. A month later, MajGen Rosecrans was relieved of command and MajGen Grant assumed command. In another month the newly formed Military Division of the Mississippi was on the offensive again. David Powell has produced another superlative book about the campaigns around Chattanooga. Powell explains how the Union Army was surrounded in Chattanooga and had to rely on cross-river supply routes to its major depot in Stevenson, Alabama, yet managed to reinforce the garrison and then break-out two months after the debacle at Chickamauga. I really like the fact that Powell’s explanation of the “Battle Above The Clouds” incorporated details usually missing in other histories. The maps are outstanding and add greatly to the battle descriptions. I wish there were more. I’m not sure why editors refuse to use more maps but they are extremely helpful to readers and researchers. Powell’s 2009 book, “The Maps of Chickamauga” sets the “gold standard” for battle books and is chocked-full of outstanding information and very good analyses. Powell’s analysis of Rosecrans’ actions when the Army of the Cumberland moves into Chattanooga goes against the grain of typical histories. Powell cites author Frank Varney’s outstanding key study of Grant, “General Grant and the Rewriting of History: How the Destruction of General William S. Rosecrans Influenced Our Understanding of the Civil War”. He adds new details to Varney’s outstanding analyses of Grant’s actions. Like Varney, Powell gives much more credit to Rosecrans and backs it with substantive evidence from the Official Records, letters and diaries rather than Grant’s subjective and biased memoirs. What I believe that Powell shows is that the same actions can be viewed from two diametrically opposing directions and produce very different explanations. For too long, researchers have depended solely on Grant’s view without considering evidence from other reliable sources. It doesn’t necessarily make Grant a liar, only mis-informed and subject to his own biases. Rosecrans emerges with a much better reputation, seen more empathetically with information surely known at Grant’s time but not considered, perhaps for reasons of ego or politics. The explanation of the battle on 24 November on the side of Lookout Mountain is carefully set by an explanation of how the armies positioned their units and why they were arrayed the way they were. The increasing Union troop strength and decreasing Confederate troop strength established a situation that even an amateur could easily understand made General Bragg’s position completely untenable. Unable to effectively man the entire siege ring around Chattanooga due to Longstreet’s corps’ departure, Bragg was forced to try and attempt an economy of force action. He lacked forces to conduct an offensive and barely had enough to maintain a siege around Chattanooga. He was at a major disadvantage trying to supply his dispersed forces with an inadequate logistics system. The Union Army had the advantage of “internal lines” and they were able to mass their forces inside the Confederate ring. By the end of November, this proved to be the undoing of Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. Powell ends his book with a great piece of investigative critical thinking. The appendices address interesting trivia and myths. One such persistent myth that has gained traction over the years is that the Union Army was starving in Chattanooga and that Grant saved them by establishing the “Cracker Line”. Powell deftly unravels the starvation myth and traces its origins. He uses first-person accounts to show that the Union soldiers were adequately fed but the animals were not as forage could not be gotten in adequate amounts until the siege was broken. The book is not without minor faults. The first is mis-used military terminology. Powell relates that soldiers “entrenched” in places where they did not. Powell is in good company as other authors make the same error. In the specific circumstances described, the soldiers could not “entrench” for two reasons: 1) they did not have enough implements with which to “entrench” and, 2) time was not available. “Entrenching” requires digging. Soldiers were not issued individual entrenching tools (small shovels) until 1906. Using organic picks and shovels in the regimental wagons would have taken many hours to days due the small number of picks, spades and shovels……leading to the second point. To dig even a small trench was very time consuming and the units just did not have that time under the described circumstances, especially in rocky soil. What they commonly did is build above the ground. Using stones and tree trunks, they fabricated “breastworks” which did not have to be dug, but piled. The other term that is commonly misused is “strategy” when “operational” is what is actually meant. In military parlance, “strategy” consists of national-level political-military actions. “Operational” denotes major campaigns and operations that tie tactical actions (battles and engagements) to the national-level strategy. The lack of citations is bothersome since the book is an excellent source for researchers. It would be extremely nice to know where some of the information came from. Overall, I rate this book as an “A+” for scholarship and analysis. For those of us in northern Alabama, Chattanooga and the related battle sites are an easy day-trip. Any visit there ought to be with this book. David Powell continues to made substantial additions to our knowledge of the War Between the States. His writing is clear, logical and easy to read. His directions and GPS coordinates to all of the sites associated with this battle are a boon to both tourists and staff ride advocates. I look forward to reading his continued works.