Bushwhacking on a Grand Scale: The Battle of Chickamauga, September 18-20, 1863
By William Lee White, Savas Beatie 2013, $12.95
Short, concise treatments of battles and events seem to be the current fad in Civil War scholarship, with various prominent publishers jumping on the bandwagon with varying results. By using well-known experts on each topic, the McWhiney Foundation Press’ “Civil War Campaigns and Commanders” series is probably the best regarded. And now Savas Beatie has joined the fray with its “Emerging Civil War” series.
Lee White’s new book on the Confederate victory in the September 1863 Battle of Chickamauga does exactly what Savas Beatie intended by providing a brief, uncomplicated overview of the fighting between Braxton Bragg’s Confederates and William Rosecrans’ Federals. White, a Chickamauga park ranger who, of all people, should know his subject, has written a good overview of the battle that will appeal to the more general buff as well as younger audiences. Profusely illustrated and rarely going below the brigade level, Bushwhacking on a Grand Scale can easily be read in no time at all. And unlike many other shorter volumes, it has a built-in tour guide component. Stalwart researchers will still want to delve into the larger works by Peter Cozzens and Glenn Tucker, but White’s is perfect for readers happy with less detail.
White does incorporate some of the revisionist thinking of modern scholarship in his overview, including counting September 18 as the first of three days of battle. He also addresses some of the new thinking about the causes and circumstances surrounding the fatal gap in the Union line on September 20.
In sum, Bushwhacking on a Grand Scale is not the final word on Chickamauga by any means, but it is a readable introduction that can fittingly go alongside the other introductory works.
Originally published in the March 2014 issue of America’s Civil War. To subscribe, click here.