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The Impulse of Victory

The Impulse of Victory

Ulysses S. Grant at Chattanooga

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David A. Powell


Hardcover (Other formats: E-book)
264 pages, 6 x 9, 29 illustrations

World of Ulysses S. Grant


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  • Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

About the Book

How Grant secured a Tennessee victory and a promotion

Union soldiers in the Army of the Cumberland, who were trapped and facing starvation or surrender in the fall of 1863, saw the arrival of Major General Ulysses S. Grant in Tennessee as an impetus to reverse the tides of war. David A. Powell’s sophisticated strategic and operational analysis of Grant’s command decisions and actions shows how his determined leadership relieved the siege and shattered the enemy, resulting in the creation of a new strategic base of Union operations and Grant’s elevation to commander of all the Federal armies the following year.  
Powell’s detailed exploration of the Union Army of the Cumberland’s six-week-long campaign for Chattanooga is complemented by his careful attention to the personal issues Grant faced at the time and his relationships with his superiors and subordinates. Though unfamiliar with the tactical situation, the army, and its officers, Grant delivered another resounding victory. His success, explains Powell, was due to his tactical flexibility, communication with his superiors, perseverance despite setbacks, and dogged determination to win the campaign. Through attention to postwar accounts, Powell reconciles the differences between what happened and the participants’ memories of the events. He focuses throughout on Grant’s controversial decisions, showing how they were made and their impact on the campaign. As Powell shows, Grant’s choices demonstrate how he managed to be a thoughtful, deliberate commander despite the fog of war. 


David A. Powell, an expert on the battle of Chickamauga, is the author of nine books on the Civil War, including The Chickamauga Campaign trilogy as well as Battle above the Clouds: Lifting the Siege of Chattanooga and the Battle of Lookout Mountain, October 16–November 24, 1863. He is vice president of Airsped, Inc., a specialized delivery firm.


The Impulse of Victory is among the best of its breed. . . [similar books] are too likely to play favorites. Powell does not, and so his work is all the better for it. When he praises a man or is critical of him, you are sure it was done with fairness.”—Sean Michael Chick, Emerging Civil War Book Review

"In engrossing detail, Powell narrates the events of Grant’s travel to Tennessee, his assumption of command, his exertion of authority over some headstrong or uncooperative subordinates, and his arrangements for resolution of logistical problems."—Russell K. BrownThe Journal of America's Military Past

"There is probably no better work currently extant from the federal perspective if the reader desires a full account not overly burdened by detail."—William Glenn Robertson, H-Net Reviews 

“Faced with a crisis at Chattanooga, Abraham Lincoln turned to his most successful general, Ulysses S. Grant, to rescue the Union forces desperately holding on to the strategic little city on the Tennessee River. Employing the impressive body of research he amassed for his well-acclaimed work on the Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaign, David A. Powell concisely and insightfully demonstrates how Grant, with both persistence and flexibility, led troops from three different Union armies to gain a significant victory.”—Sam Davis Elliott, author of John C. Brown of Tennessee: Rebel, Redeemer, and Railroader 

“In this engagingly written account of the Chattanooga campaign, Powell transitions seamlessly between the tactical and strategic levels of war, recounting the mud and blood of the battlefield as well as the rancor and resentment among the commanders. Powell’s narrative reveals how Grant managed his commanders’ egos, foibles, and personalities to prevail in the struggle over the vital rail center of Chattanooga. The Impulse of Victory is a good introduction to the battles for Chattanooga and Grant’s contributions to Union victory.”—Harry S. Laver, U.S. Army Command and General Staff School, author of A General Who Will Fight: The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant

The Impulse of Victory should be required reading for anyone interested in Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War in the West, or Civil War generalship.”—Charles R. BoweryCivil War Book Review