“Benjamin Franklin Cooling has produced a triumphant third volume to his definitive study of Tennessee and Kentucky in the Civil War. Like his first two volumes, this one perfectly integrates the home front and battlefield, demonstrating that civilians were continually embroiled in the war in intense ways comparable to and often surpassing the violence experienced by soldiers on the battlefield. The impacts of armies, guerrillas, and other military forces on civilians was continual, terrifying, and brutal in nearly all parts of the Confederacy’s Heartland.” —T. Michael Parrish, Linden G. Bowers Professor of American History, Baylor University
“Cooling’s scholarship is indeed sound and based on extensive research in a variety of original sources that range from manuscript collections to newspapers, with an exhaustive list of secondary sources. His work represents the first new interpretations of this important part of the war in decades.” —Archie P. McDonald, Regent’s Professor and Community Liaison, Stephen F. Austin State University
In two preceding volumes, Forts Henry and Donelson and Fort Donelson’s Legacy, Benjamin Franklin Cooling offered a sweeping portrayal of war and society in the upper southern heartland of Kentucky and Tennessee during the first two and a half years of the Civil War. This book continues that saga as Cooling probes the profound turmoil—on the battlefield, on the home front, within the shadow areas where lawlessness reigned—that defined the war in the region as it ground to its close.
By 1864 neither the Union’s survival nor the South’s independence was any more apparent than at the beginning of the war. The grand strategies of both sides were still evolving, and Tennessee and Kentucky were often at the cusp of that work. With his customary command of myriad sources, Cooling examines the heartland conflict in all its aspects: the Confederate cavalry raids and Union counteroffensives; the harsh and punitive Reconstruction policies that were met with banditry and brutal guerrilla actions; the disparate political, economic, and sociocultural upheavals; the ever-growing war weariness of the divided populations; and the climactic battles of Franklin and Nashville that ended the Confederacy’s hopes in the Western Theater. Especially notable in this volume is Cooling’s use of the latest concepts of “hybrid” or “compound war” that national security experts have applied to the twenty-first-century wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—a mode of analysis that explores how catastrophic terrorism and disruptive lawlessness mix with traditional combat and irregular operations to form a new kind of warfare. Not only are such concepts relevant to the historical study of the Civil War in the heartland, Cooling suggests, but by the same token, their illumination of historical events can only enrich the ways in which policymakers view present-day conflicts.
In chronicling Tennessee and Kentucky’s final rite of passage from war to peace, To the Battles of Franklin and Nashville and Beyond is in every way a major contribution to Civil War literature by a masterful historian.