In October 1863, the Union Army of the Cumberland was besieged in Chattanooga, all but surrounded by familiar opponents: The Confederate Army of Tennessee. The Federals were surviving by the narrowest of margins, thanks only to a trickle of supplies painstakingly hauled over the sketchiest of mountain roads. Soon even those quarter-rations would not suffice. Disaster was in the offing.
Yet those Confederates, once jubilant at having routed the Federals at Chickamauga and driven them back into the apparent trap of Chattanooga's trenches, found their own circumstances increasingly difficult to bear. In the immediate aftermath of their victory, the South rejoiced; the Confederacy's own disasters of the previous summer-Vicksburg and Gettysburg-were seemingly reversed. Then came stalemate in front of those same trenches. The Confederates held the high ground, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, but they could not completely seal off Chattanooga from the north.
The Union responded. Reinforcements were on the way. A new man arrived to take command: Ulysses S. Grant. Confederate General Braxton Bragg, unwilling to launch a frontal attack on Chattanooga's defenses, sought victory elsewhere, diverting troops to East Tennessee.
Battle above the Clouds by David Powell recounts the first half of the campaign to lift the siege of Chattanooga, including the opening of the "cracker line," the unusual night battle of Wauhatchie, and one of the most dramatic battles of the entire war: Lookout Mountain.
David A. Powell is a 1983 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute with a B.A. in history. After graduating from VMI, he went to work for CBS Messenger-a family business in the Chicago area-but never lost his intense interest in military history, especially in the American Civil War. David has written numerous articles for a variety of magazines, more than fifteen historical simulations of various battles, and regularly leads tours of the Chickamauga battlefield. His previous books include The Maps of Chickamauga: An Atlas of the Chickamauga Campaign, Including the Tullahoma Operations, June 22 - September 23, 1863 (2009), and Failure in the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joseph Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign (2010), the recipient of the Atlanta Civil War Round Table's Richard B. Harwell Award.