Nashville 1864, From the Tennessee to the Cumberland

Published: November 16th, 2017     
Product Image
Front Cover
Author: Mark Lardas
Reviewed by: 
Jim Pearsall, IPMS# 2209
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 978-1-4728-1982-6
E-Book ISBN #: 9781472819840
Other Publication Information: Illustrations by Adam Hook
Price: $24.00
Product / Stock #: Campaign 314

This Osprey book covers one of the most ignored campaigns of the later stages of the Civil War. Mark Lardas does a very good job of covering the leadership, the units and the strategies of this campaign.

The book is divided into the following sections/chapters

  • ORIGINS OF THE CAMPAIGN
  • CHRONOLOGY
  • OPPOSING COMMANDERS
    • Confederate
    • Union
  • OPPOSING FORCES
    • Army of Tennessee
    • Military Division of the Mississippi
      • Orders of Battle
  • OPPOSING PLANS
  • THE CAMPAIGN
  • AFTERMATH
  • THE BATTLEFIELD TODAY
  • FURTHER READING
  • INDEX.

The Strategic Situation

The main story line goes something like this. General Sherman had just captured Atlanta after successful battles across northwest Georgia. This was possible because General Grant sent a large force from the Army of the Potomac down into Tennessee and Georgia, and this large infusion of troops enabled the Union Army to recover from the defeat at Chickamauga and the Siege of Chattanooga and move against Atlanta.

Sherman now had a chance to move against Eastern Georgia. This was the famous "March to the Sea".

The Confederacy had a serious problem, in that they could see Sherman's opportunity, and they knew they had to stop it. Although Sherman had a large force at Atlanta, they were dependent on supplies shipped from Nashville by two railroad lines. There is a lot of territory between Atlanta and Nashville, and the Union couldn't guard both of the rail lines for their entire length. So, General John Bell Hood was sent up into Tennessee to cut the rail lines to disrupt the supply lines and to take Nashville, where the supplies came off the steamboats for train shipment. The South had problems of their own, however. One of the big ones was lack of supplies, food, ammunition, uniforms, shoes, and all the other things that an army needs to function. Hood's Army of Tennessee was also short on manpower. Every soldier lost to death, injury, capture, or desertion was very hard to replace. The Confederacy had instituted a draft in 1862, but that manpower pool was getting shallow too, especially since Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Maryland were occupied by the Union Army.

Sherman's first moves were to send troops from Atlanta back into Tennessee to stop Hood's attempts to cut his supply lines. He sent General George Thomas back toward Nashville, with the idea that he could gather troops from the various detachments and garrison troops to strengthen his forces. Then Sherman took 65,000 troops and departed Atlanta toward Savannah, Georgia, on the Atlantic coast.

The Story

This book covers the struggle between Generals Hood and Thomas and their subordinates to either capture or keep Nashville. If Nashville fell to Hood's troops, the March to the Sea would have withered and failed due to lack of supplies. The campaigns were interlocking, and Thomas had his hands full.

Another fact this book brings out was that many of Thomas's troops were black, mostly freed or escaped slaves, who worked to keep their freedom and free the rest of the slaves in the South. I also appreciated his mention of the book "Company Aytch" by Maury Grays a Confederate Private, one of the best books written about day to day living in the Confederate Army.

Evaluation

Mark Lardas does a very good job of making sense of the whole Nashville Campaign. He brings out the strengths and weaknesses of the armies involved, and the strategic and political problems faced by both Generals. The maps in the book were a little hard to decipher, but once I managed that they were very helpful in getting the chronology of events for each There are a number of illustrative paintings in the book, covering an important event. One of these appears on the front cover and also on pages 52 and 53. The great part is that each painting has a pretty complete explanation of what's happening on the next page.

I have some background in the Civil War, but this book showed me a set of operations which could have completely changed the outcome of the war. If Hood had been successful, there was a good chance that George McClellan would win the 1864 US Presidential election as a peace candidate, bringing the war to an end, with the Confederacy surviving as an entity.

Recommended to history buffs. Also, the illustrations give some very good illustrations of uniforms of the period for figure painters.

Many thanks to Osprey Publishing for the book, and to IPMS USA for the chance to fill in some large gaps in my Civil War knowledge

  • Back cover
    Back cover
  • Sample page 19
    Sample page 19
  • Sample page 31
    Sample page 31
  • Sample page 54
    Sample page 54
  • Sample page 58
    Sample page 58
  • Sample page 94
    Sample page 94