The Atlanta Campaign: Volume 1: Dalton to Cassville, May 1-19, 1864

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David A. Powell
Pub Date:
Spring 2024
Hardcover, 6 x 9
15 maps, 20 images, 624 pp.
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About the Book

For scope, drama, and importance, the Atlanta Campaign was second only to Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign in Virginia. Despite its criticality and massive array of primary source material, it has lingered in the shadows of other campaigns and has yet to receive the treatment it deserves. Powell’s The Atlanta Campaign, Volume 1: Dalton to Cassville, May 1–19, 1864, the first in a proposed five-volume treatment, ends that oversight.

Once Grant decided to go east and lead the Federal armies against Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, he chose William T. Sherman to do the same in Georgia against Joseph E. Johnston and his ill-starred Army of Tennessee. Sherman’s base was Chattanooga; Johnston’s was Atlanta. The grueling campaign opened on May 1, 1864.

While Grant and Lee grappled with one another like wrestlers, Sherman and Johnston parried and feinted like fencers. Johnston eschewed the offensive while hoping to lure Sherman into headlong assaults against fortified lines. Sherman disliked the uncertainty of battle and preferred maneuvering. When Johnston dug in, Sherman sought his flanks and turned the Confederates out of seemingly impregnable positions in a campaign noted Civil War historian Richard M. McMurry dubbed “the Red Clay Minuet.”

Contrary to popular belief Sherman did not set out to capture Atlanta. His orders were “to move against Johnston’s army, to break it up and to get into the interior of the enemy’s country . . . inflicting all the damage you can against their war resources.” No Civil War army could survive long without its logistical base, and Atlanta was vital to the larger Confederate war effort. As Johnston retreated, Southern fears for the city grew. As Sherman advanced, Northern expectations increased.

This first installment of The Atlanta Campaign relies on a mountain of primary source material and extensive experience with the terrain to examine the battles of Dalton, Resaca, Rome Crossroads, Adairsville, and Cassville—the first phase of the long and momentous campaign. While none of these engagements matched the bloodshed of the Wilderness or Spotsylvania, each witnessed periods of intense fighting and key decision-making. The largest fight, Resaca, produced more than 8,000 killed, wounded, and missing in just two days. In between these actions the armies skirmished daily in a campaign its participants would recall as the “100 days’ fight.”

Like Powell’s The Chickamauga Campaign trilogy, this multi-volume study breaks new ground and promises to be this generation’s definitive treatment of one of the most important and fascinating confrontations of the entire Civil War.

Advance Praise

“The Atlanta Campaign has experienced a renaissance in literature in the first quarter of the 21st century. That vigorous attention has taken an impressive step forward with this first installment of David Powell’s multi-volume history of the four months that determined the outcome of the Civil War. Powell’s exhaustive research and skillful prose have produced a finely detailed, yet engrossing presentation of the preparation of the campaign and carries it through the first three weeks of May 1864 with a balanced narrative, complete with thrilling battle descriptions and deep analysis of commanders’ decisions on and off those blood-stained fields. His narrative on the battle of Resaca is the most thorough treatment of that contest to date. Dalton to Cassville raises the bar not only for Powell’s subsequent volumes of the Atlanta Campaign, but for all future works dedicated to this decisive period of the war.” — Gary Ecelbarger, author of The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta and Slaughter at the Chapel: The Battle of Ezra Church

“The author of the definitive Chickamauga Campaign trilogy has delivered another gem in what promises to be an epic series on the long-neglected but all-important Atlanta Campaign. Powell’s first installment details the events from Dalton to Cassville and everywhere in between, with new insights from previously unpublished diaries and firsthand accounts, all masterfully recounted in a beautifully flowing narrative.” — Robert D. Jenkins, Sr., author of The Cassville Affairs: Johnston, Hood, and the Failed Confederate Strategy in the Atlanta Campaign, 19 May 1864

“David Powell follows his iconic opus on the Chickamauga Campaign with what promises to become the seminal tactical study of the initial phase of the massive Atlanta Campaign. He does so with the balance and meticulous research that have become the hallmarks of his writing. As readers will discover, there is much more to be learned than previously thought.” — Larry J. Daniel, author of Conquered: Why the Army of Tennessee Failed

“Dave Powell is moving his Chickamauga treatment to the Atlanta Campaign, and in impressive form. Once finished, these volumes will be by far the most detailed tactical and operational level studies ever produced on the subject. Powell is at home with the story and provides an impressive array of freshly mined sources to flesh out the history like never before.” — Timothy B. Smith, author of Shiloh: Conquer or Perish and The Iron Dice of Battle: Albert Sidney Johnston and the Civil War in the West





David A. Powell is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (1983) with a BA in history. He has published many articles in various magazines, and more than fifteen historical simulations. For the past decade David’s focus has been on the epic battle of Chickamauga, and he is nationally recognized for his tours of that important battlefield. He is the author of many books including The Chickamauga Campaign trilogy, The Maps of Chickamauga, and Failure in the Saddle. He is currently finishing the first of what promises to be a five-volume history of the Atlanta Campaign. David and his wife Anne live with their brace of Bloodhounds in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.