Decision in the West
The Atlanta Campaign of 1864
Winner: Lincoln Prize
Following a skirmish on June 28, 1864, a truce is called so the North can remove their dead and wounded. For two hours, Yankees and Rebels mingle, with some of the latter even assisting the former in their grisly work. Newspapers are exchanged. Northern coffee is swapped for Southern tobacco. Yanks crowd around two Rebel generals, soliciting and obtaining autographs.
“Nothing short of a magnum opus.”
—Civil War History
“Castel’s well-written and absorbing study may well stand as the definitive battle narrative ofd the Atlanta campaign.”
—American Historical ReviewSee all reviews...
“A model for the writing of military history.”
—Journal of American History
“[Castel] provides a sweeping and richly detailed narrative of the entire campaign from the initial maneuvers around Dalton in the spring to the capture of Atlanta in September. . . . A superb treatment of the Atlanta campaign that should remain the standard account for a very long time.”
—Journal of Southern History
“Castel’s research and understanding of the campaign are unmatchable. Decision in the West will be the standard account for many years to come, and should be considered on of the premier civil War campaign studies.”
—Journal of Military History
“A powerful, provocative, ground-breaking account of the Atlanta campaign of 1864.”
—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
“Several sections offer detailed yet lucid descriptions of the mechanics of combat, tactics, marching, and logistics in the Civil War. The author also ably places the Atlanta campaign in the wider context of the campaigns of 1864, political as well as military, for the fate of Abraham Lincoln’s bid for reelection would be decided on the battlefield as well as at the ballot box.”
—Florida Historical Quarterly
“One of the most important and original books on the Civil War published in the past decade. This book is richly detailed and massively researched. Its sharply revisionist interpretation of William T. Sherman is bound to arouse much controversy. All serious students of the Civil War will want to read it.”
—David Herbert Donald, author of Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War
“Almost everything in this book is new or in some way ground breaking. It will immediately become the standard study of the campaign. The research is impeccable. A magnificent effort.”
—William C. Davis, author of Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour and former editor of Civil War Times Illustrated
“This is the fullest and most intelligible study of the Atlanta campaign that we have or are likely ever to have. The writing is lively, the research exhaustive, the interpretations sometimes provocative but always perceptive. This is how military history should be written.”
—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Era of the Civil War
“Military history at its best by one of America's leading historians of the Civil War. With dramatic flair and authentic detail in a fast-paced and suspenseful narrative, Castel brings the Atlanta campaign to life, penetrating the minds of the commanders as well as the thoughts of the common soldiers.”
—Robert W. Johannsen, author of Lincoln, the South, and Slavery: The Political DimensionSee fewer reviews...
As they part, a Confederate calls to a Yankee, "I hope to miss you, Yank, if I happen to shoot in your direction." "May I, never hit you Johnny if we fight again," comes the reply.
The reprieve is short. A couple of months, dozens of battles, and more than 30,000 casualties later, the North takes Atlanta.
One of the most dramatic and decisive episodes of the Civil War, the Atlanta Campaign was a military operation carried out on a grand scale across a spectacular landscape that pitted some of the war's best (and worst) general against each other.
In Decision in the West, Albert Castel provides the first detailed history of the Campaign published since Jacob D. Cox's version appeared in 1882. Unlike Cox, who was a general in Sherman's army, Castel provides an objective perspective and a comprehensive account based on primary and secondary sources that have become available in the past 110 years.
Castel gives a full and balanced treatment to the operations of both the Union and Confederate armies from the perspective of the common soldiers as well as the top generals. He offers new accounts and analyses of many of the major events of the campaign, and, in the process, corrects many long-standing myths, misconceptions, and mistakes. In particular, he challenges the standard view of Sherman's performance.
Written in present tense to give a sense of immediacy and greater realism, Decision in the West demonstrates more definitively than any previous book how the capture of Atlanta by Sherman's army occurred and why it assured Northern victory in the Civil War.