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Book Review
Philip L. Secrist

Mercer University Press, 1998,
93 pages + notes, bibliography, and index

Reviewed by Joe Childress

Involving nearly  150,000  troops,  commanders  like  Joseph
Johnston, John Bell Hood, William T.  Sherman, and George H.
Thomas, and Confederate soldiers from Virginia  and  several
other  states,  the  Battle  of Resaca marked the opening of
Sherman's Atlanta  Campaign.   After  two  days  of  intense
fighting  and  11,000  dead, wounded and captured (including
among the dead,  one  immortalized  in  a  famous  story  by
Ambrose  Bierce),  Johnston extracted his Army of Tennessee,
leaving Sherman to claim an expensive and hollow victory.   

This short book presents the story of this battle.   But  it
is  more than the story of a battle; it is also the story of
a battlefield.  Part I, the  story  of  the  battle,  is  an
enhanced  version  of  a  magazine  article  written for The
Atlanta Historical Journal, while  Part  II  tells  how  the
battlefield  was  preserved,  and  profiles  the individuals
instrumental in its preservation.  Philip Secrist, a history
professor  at  Kennesaw State University and Chairman of the
Georgia Civil War Commission,  has  studied  the  battle  of
Resaca   and  the  battlefield  for  forty  years,  and  his
knowledge and love of this site are apparent in this work.  

Dr.  Secrist's method is to sequentially tell  the  battle's
story, beginning with a short overview of Sherman's plan for
Georgia,  plans  thwarted  by  Johnston  at  Resaca.   Using
twenty(!)    maps    (including    four    beautiful   color
reproductions), the reader or battlefield visitor should  be
able  to follow troop movements and battlefield developments
during the two-day  battle.   The  contemporary  and  modern
battlefield  photos  are  a  valuable aid to visualizing the
topography (which may be unfamiliar to Virginians).         

For those interested in the Atlanta Campaign, especially the
battle of Resaca, this book (the only one devoted to Resaca)
is essential.  That is  not  to  say  it  doesn't  have  its
weaknesses.   Some  of  the maps, especially those reprinted
from the Official Records, are  too  small  to  be  legible.
There  is  no  order of battle or detailed analysis of troop
strength  by  command.   The  book  would  also  be  greatly
improved   by   an  expanded  introduction  to  the  Georgia

Dr.  Secrist demonstrates that he has the knowledge and  the
ability  to  produce  the  full-length book that this battle
needs and  deserves.   The  summary  beginning  on  page  64
demonstrates that his writing skills are up to the task.  One
is left wanting more, and hoping that Dr.  Secrist will find
the  time  to  expand  his  work  to three or four times its
present scope.                                              

Availability: New copies are currently available for $20 at most Civil War book dealers. New or used copies may also be purchased on-line. Currently available from Barnes & Noble for $20.00 - hardcover.
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