Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga and the Organizations Engaged - full review

The Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga and the Organizations Engaged. By Henry V. Boynton. Edited by Tim Smith. Illustrated, photographs, maps, index, 152 pp., 2010, The University of Tennessee Press,, 800-621-2736, $34.95, cloth.

Henry V. Boynton should be much more well known than he is. It is due to his efforts that the battlefields of Chickamauga and Chattanooga were preserved by the federal government, the first battlefields to be preserved by the federal government. This lead to the creation of other battlefield parks in the 1890s and has continued to the present day. When the battlefields were preserved one of the first tasks was to create troop movement maps with accompanying text, which then became the basis for the iron interpretive markers on the battlefields.
In his role as the first park historian Boynton wrote quite a bit on Chickamauga and Chattanooga. He wrote an extensive tour of the battlefields with a history of the preservation efforts. He also wrote a book covering the formation of the park for the grand dedication in 1895. These books can still be found in libraries and appear for sale online quite regularly. Boynton also wrote three small books that are much less readily available in libraries or for sale. Timothy B. Smith has collected these three short volumes into one book. He also provides an introduction that places Boynton and these three volumes in their proper historical context. The three volumes are presented as originally published, Smith confined his notes about the books to the introduction.

Two of the books focus on the order of battle. Boynton provides an order of battle showing regimental commanders and then gives a couple paragraphs of text explaining what the division did in the battle. There is a volume for Chickamauga and another for Chattanooga. These give a good overview of the battle. They were also intended to be used with an atlas that was created at the same time. Those maps are not included in this modern book but the University of Tennessee Press has put the maps online at
In the third volume in the book Boynton made clear that he considered the entire campaign from August til the end of November as the campaign for Chattanooga. Chickamauga was the first battle fought for control of Chattanooga and the final battle at Missionary Ridge was only to confirm. The other interesting thing about this volume is that Boynton commissioned a topographic model to supplement the text and was intended for professional military study. Three models were built but none apparently had survived.

This is a very useful addition to the study of these battles. These rare volumes can now be owned by anyone. Then being able to pair the text with the maps, available online, makes it an even more worthwhile book.

If you wish to learn more about Boynton’s role in the formation of Chickamauga check out A Chickamauga Memorial: The Establishment of America’s First Civil War National Military Park by Timothy B. Smith