New book focuses on lost Civil War legend

Mike West, Murfreesboro Post, January 19, 2014

TULLAHOMA, TN – A new book explores “The Tullahoma Campaign,” a nearly forgotten episode of the Civil War.

Edited by David E. Currey and Robert E. Hunt, the book features numerous photographs and articles written by several historians, including James Lewis, Vince Armstrong and Michael Bradley.

Hunt is a professor of history at MTSU, where he teaches among other things, Civil War and Reconstruction history. Currey is principal at Encore Interpretive Design, an interpretive planning and exhibit company in Nashville that put together the book.

Lewis is a park ranger and historian at Stones River National Battlefield. Armstrong is an assistant professor of history at MTSU. Bradley, who received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, is professor emeritus at Motlow State Community College.

All have written books and articles about the Civil War.

The book was published by Backroads Heritage Inc., of Tullahoma, and includes additional information about the Tullahoma campaign trail, kiosk interpretive signs and a self-driving tour route.

Nicely packaged, the book includes Civil War era photographs, modern images and maps.

When combined together, “The Tullahoma Campaign,” gives a multidimensional look at a decisive Federal army campaign that drove Confederate forces out of Middle Tennessee onto Chattanooga.

Readers can literally follow the path of a campaign that helped secure Tennessee as a base of operations for an invasion of the Deep South by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.

The book begins with an overview of the War in the West, written by Hunt, and jumps to an article written by Lewis concerning Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans rebuilding of the corps into the Federal Army of the Cumberland following the Battle of Stones River.

Despite criticism from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Maj. General Henry Halleck, Rosecrans realized that his army needed reorganization and rebuilding after Stones River, where he lost five brigadier generals and 20 colonels as casualties.

During its six months in Murfreesboro, the Army of the Cumberland was redefined organizationally with Brig. General James St. Clair Morton and his Pioneer Brigade building a huge fortification that surrounded more than 200 acres of land controlling the railroad between Nashville and Chattanooga.

Rosecrans also took the effort to bolster his cavalry so it could compete with the likes of Confederates Nathan Bedford Forrest, John Hunt Morgan and Joseph Wheeler.

Most notably, he created what was to become known as Col. John Wilder’s Lightning Brigade featuring mounted infantry men armed with Spencer repeating rifles that could fire 14 rounds per minute.

Hunt recounted how Rosecrans prepared for his campaign as Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg formed his troops across a wide spread of Middle Tennessee’s Highland Rim before transitioning into conflicts at Liberty Gap and Gillie’s Gap.

Brig. Gen. August Willich showed his stuff at Liberty Gap, pioneering a new tactical move that improved the Federal troops firing rates by leap-frogging units.

Armstrong recounts the Battle for Hoover’s Gap led by Maj. Gen. George Thomas with Wilder’s Brigade in the vanguard.

While not in Cannon County, Hoover’s Gap and Gillie’s Gap were close to Bradyville with Maj. Gen. Thomas Crittenden leading the Federal troops in their advance on Gillie’s Gap.

At the start of the conflict, the Confederate line stretched from outside of Eagleville to Bell Buckle, past Bradyville and ending between Woodbury and McMinnville.

Confederate generals Leonidas Polk in Shelbyville, William Hardee in Wartrace and Braxton Bragg in Tullahoma held key points along the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad.

Through feints and clever movements, Rosecrans ran the Confederates out of the Highland Rim and onto Chattanooga. Those are recounted in the book, which concludes with a 10-point, self-driving tour of important points along the Tullahoma campaign. Kiosks marking each of those points have been erected as well.

The book is available at or by calling 615-613-5627.

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