The Chickamauga Campaign—Barren Victory: The Retreat into Chattanooga, the Confederate Pursuit, and the Aftermath of the Battle, September 21 to October 20, 1863

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David A. Powell
Pub Date:
September 2016
Hardcover, 6 x 9
Images, maps, 387 pp.
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About the Book

Barren Victory is the third and concluding volume of the magisterial Chickamauga Campaign Trilogy, a comprehensive examination more than a decade in the making of one of the most important and complex military operations of the Civil War.

The first installment, A Mad Irregular Battle, introduced readers to the major characters of this sweeping drama and carried them from the Union crossing of the Tennessee River in August 1863 up through the bloody but inconclusive combat of the first and second days of the battle (September 18 and 19, 1863). Glory or the Grave, the trilogy’s second volume, focused on September 20—the decisive third day of fighting that included the Confederate breakthrough of the late morning and the desperate Union final stand on Horseshoe Ridge. This installment drew to a close at nightfall.

Barren Victory, David Powell’s final installment, examines the immediate aftermath of this great battle with unprecedented clarity and detail. The narrative opens at dawn on Monday, September 21, 1863, with Union commander William S. Rosecrans in Chattanooga and most of the rest of his Federal army in Rossville, Georgia. Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg has won the signal victory of his career, but has yet to fully grasp that fact or the fruits of his success. Unfortunately for the South, three grueling days of combat has broken down the Army of Tennessee and made a vigorous pursuit nearly impossible. In addition to carefully examining the decisions made by each army commander and their consequences, Powell sets forth the dreadful costs of the fighting in terms of the human suffering involved. Barren Victory concludes with the most detailed order of battle (including unit strengths and losses) for Chickamauga ever compiled, and a comprehensive bibliography.

David Powell’s The Chickamauga Campaign Trilogy is now complete, with the fighting in the hills and valleys of North Georgia finally receiving the extensive treatment it has so long deserved.


"Dave Powell concludes his award-winning Chickamauga trilogy with the appropriately titled Barren Victory. The post-battle coverage is simply unprecedented among prior Chickamauga studies, ranging from graphic eyewitness descriptions of the battlefield’s horrors to in-depth consideration of the outcome’s strategic and political implications. Powell seamlessly weaves the stories of the campaign’s large cast of characters together, including full discussions of Braxton Bragg’s limited options and the complex relationship between Rosecrans, Garfield, and Dana. But Powell goes beyond the leaders to argue persuasively that Chickamauga was “the quintessential soldiers’ battle.” Detailed orders of battle, including strengths and losses down to the regimental level for both armies, conclude Powell’s comprehensive analysis. Every enthusiast of the American Civil War’s Western Theater will want this essential final volume of Dave Powell’s series in their personal library.”" (James A. Hessler, award-winning author of Sickles at Gettysburg and co-author of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg)

“I will not mince words. Dave Powell’s three-volume work on the Chickamauga Campaign represents the most significant Western campaign contribution since Albert Castel’s Decision in the West. The bibliography in Barren Victory, Volume 3 of his trilogy, reveals the breadth and scope of his research. Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. In this third volume, the reader discovers how this epic story concludes. Must reading!” (Larry J. Daniel, author of Days of Glory: The Army of the Cumberland)

"An excellent, comprehensive account of one of the key campaigns of the American Civil War." (Books Monthly)

David A. Powell is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (1983) with a BA in history. He has published numerous articles in various magazines, and more than fifteen historical simulations of different battles. 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. The result of that study are the volumes, The Maps of Chickamauga (2009) Failure in the Saddle (2010) and the first two volumes of a Chickamauga trilogy. The Chickamauga Campaign: A Mad Irregular Battle was published in 2014, and The Chickamauga Campaign: Glory or the Grave appeared in September, 2015. The final volume, Barren Victory, was released in September 2016. David and his wife Anne live and work in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. He is Vice President of Airsped, Inc., a specialized delivery firm.