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Fighting for Atlanta

Tactics, Terrain, and Trenches in the Civil War

By Earl J. Hess

408 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 19 halftones, 19 maps, 3 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4342-7
    Published: October 2018
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-4343-4
    Published: October 2018

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As William T. Sherman's Union troops began their campaign for Atlanta in the spring of 1864, they encountered Confederate forces employing field fortifications located to take advantage of rugged terrain. While the Confederates consistently acted on the defensive, digging eighteen lines of earthworks from May to September, the Federals used fieldworks both defensively and offensively. With 160,000 troops engaged on both sides and hundreds of miles of trenches dug, fortifications became a defining factor in the Atlanta campaign battles. These engagements took place on topography ranging from Appalachian foothills to the clay fields of Georgia's piedmont.

Leading military historian Earl J. Hess examines how commanders adapted their operations to the physical environment, how the environment in turn affected their movements, and how Civil War armies altered the terrain through the science of field fortification. He also illuminates the impact of fighting and living in ditches for four months on the everyday lives of both Union and Confederate soldiers. The Atlanta campaign represents one of the best examples of a prolonged Union invasion deep into southern territory, and, as Hess reveals, it marked another important transition in the conduct of war from open field battles to fighting from improvised field fortifications.

About the Author

Earl J. Hess is Stewart W. McClelland Chair in History at Lincoln Memorial University. His most recent book is The Battle of Peach Tree Creek.
For more information about Earl J. Hess, visit the Author Page.


“Another indispensable contribution to the study of Civil War field fortifications.”--Civil War Books and Authors

“Earl J. Hess, a veteran historian, brings years of experience and an intimate familiarity with the region’s geography to his analysis of Sherman’s decisive four-month campaign.”--Civil War Times

"Well-written, informative, and rich in detail and fresh information--full of insights that make it a groundbreaking contribution to the field."--Ethan Rafuse, author of Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865

"Earl Hess is the best historian of Civil War tactics working today. Lucidly written and engaging, Fighting for Atlanta joins his distinguished previous books on Civil War fieldworks, and in the process offers a compelling new look at one of the war's most decisive campaigns."--Mark Grimsley, author of The Hard Hand of War