Hess Receives Honor for Latest Civil War Book


Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) Professor of History Earl J. Hess earned honors for his latest book Fighting for Atlanta, Tactics, Terrain, and Trenches in the Civil War. (University of North Carolina Press, $39.35)

In the book, 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.


“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,” Hess said. “While the Confederates consistently acted on the defensive, digging 18 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.”


Christopher Davidson, state archivist and assistant vice chancellor and the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC) recognized Hess with an Award for Excellence in Research Using the Holdings of an Archives at the 17th annual GHRAC Archives Awards ceremony at the Georgia Archives, Oct. 15, 2019. The GHRAC awards recognize outstanding efforts in archives and records work in Georgia.


The Georgia Archives is a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and identifies, collects, manages, preserves, and publicizes records and information of Georgia and its people and assists state and local government agencies with their records management.


Hess has been a student of Civil War history since he was a teenager, growing up in rural Missouri. He completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history at Southeast Missouri State University. His doctorate in American Studies, with a concentration in History, was awarded by Purdue University in 1986. He has taught at a number of institutions, including the University of Georgia, Texas Tech University, and the University of Arkansas. Since 1989, he has been at LMU and holds the Stewart McClelland Chair.


Hess has published more than 20 books, over 30 articles, and more than a hundred book reviews for academic history journals. He has conducted numerous manuscript evaluations for academic presses and article reviews for academic journals. He is widely recognized as a leading scholar and author on Civil War history. Hess has also published and is working on books on the history of making classic film musicals.


Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423.869.6280 or email at [email protected].

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