The result of more than three years’ collaborative effort was celebrated Tuesday night with the unveiling at South Jackson Civic Center of the Tennessee’s Backroads Heritage book “The Tullahoma Campaign: The 1863 Civil War Struggle for Middle Tennessee.”
“Three of us here tonight have been working on this Tullahoma Campaign for probably 13 or 14 years,” said editor and presenter David Currey. “Vince Armstrong, Bob Hunt and myself. When we did the first Tullahoma Campaign preservation plan, part of that plan was to eventually produce what you’re going to see tonight.”
Tennessee’s Backroads Heritage president Barbara Blanton said much of the thanks went to executive director Dianne Murray.
“Without Dianne we would not have an organization,” said Blanton. “She had a plan. She was very persistent and she just kept at it. She wanted us to have this book and she wouldn’t give up until we got this book published. We really appreciate her passion and her perseverance.”
Currey, who Murray had approached with the book idea about four years ago, agreed.
“Believe me, this book would not have happened without Dianne Murray,” said Currey. “She’s the one who would call me and email me: ‘How’s it going? Have you gotten my book finished yet?’”
Reading aloud the 1943 genealogy poem titled “We Are the Chosen,” by Della Cumming, Blanton said “Those who have gone before cry out to us, ‘Tell our story!’ So we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.”
“With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence,” historians, genealogical or otherwise “step up and restore the memory or greet those whom we had never known before.”
“This is what our authors have done and what our editors have done,” said Blanton. “They have put the flesh on the bones of the people here in the Tullahoma Campaign and we really appreciate the work that they all do.”
“How do you recreate a campaign?” asked Currey. “It’s not a battle, it’s a series of small engagements and it gets lost in the mix of the larger Civil War period of 1863. Tullahoma ends on July 4, 1863. What else ended July 4? Gettysburg. Vicksburg. The quintessential battles of the American Civil War, the turning point, as people like to say.”
“Over the course of about a two week period, the federal army — the Army of the Cumberland — literally moved the entire Confederate Army of Tennessee completely out of the state. It was a massive campaign.”
“What we did,” said Currey, “was put together some writers, some historians that had done things about the Tullahoma Campaign.”
Middle Tennessee State University lecturer Dr. Vince Armstrong had “written a lot about the campaign. He developed a lot of the early maps of the campaign. Some of these roads that exist today weren’t there in 1863,” said Currey. “We had to go back and figure out which roads the armies had taken. And we did. It took a lot of time and effort. Vince spearheaded that effort.”
MTSU professor Dr. Robert Hunt, who had helped Currey develop the campaign preservation plan that installed Civil War interpretive panels in the state 10 years ago, “did a lot of the early history of the Tullahoma Campaign, developing all those timelines, who was where, when were they there and where did they go.”
Hunt also assisted Currey with the editing.
“He was probably one of the main writers,” said Currey. “Bob helped decide ‘how do we pull a story of Tullahoma together that’s not just the same story?”
Clarksville’s Greg Biggs, another contributor, gives tours of the Tullahoma Campaign.
“Greg’s been fascinated by Shelbyville and all the Confederate cavalry action around Shelbyville, so it was natural for me to go to Greg and say, ‘hey, you’ve been talking about this for a long time. Now I need an article out of it,” said Currey.
Stones River’s Jim Lewis “did a lot of the background work leading up to Tullahoma. What happened after the battle and how did we get to June 1863,” said Currey.
Dr. Michael Bradley, prominent local author and lifetime member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, also contributed. “He had written books on Tullahoma. I asked if he would condense that down.”
That collection of historians compiled a book that combines both history and tourism in a single volume. “We tried to do both the best we possibly could in a book that’s about 110 pages long,” said Currey.
“At the end of the book there’s a map and the stops. You can take this book, put it in your car, and you can follow the campaign place after place.”
One thousand copies of “The Tullahoma Campaign” were ordered for its first printing, according to Murray. Tennessee’s Backroads Heritage hopes that the book will prove popular enough to earn a second printing and space on bookstore shelves.
Murray said that “probably around 75” books were sold and signed by the authors at the unveiling.
Carolyn Ford of Goodletteville bought six.
“They’ll be great for Christmas gifts,” said Ford. “I know my pastor is a great Civil War fan and my neighbor is as well. That’s two off my list. And it supports a great cause.”
Though it is not yet in bookstores, “The Tullahoma Campaign” can be purchased for $21.95 plus $6.95 shipping through the Tennessee’s Backroads Heritage website at tennesseebackroads.org. Mail checks or money orders to Tennessee’s Backroads Heritage, P.O. Box 52, Tullahoma, TN 37388 or call 615-613-5627.
For multiple copies or other inquiries write to email@example.com.
To subscribe to The Tullahoma News, go to www.tullahomanews.com/?page_id=33.