Any Victory Not Bathed in Blood: William Rosecrans’s Tullahoma Advance

A BGES Civil War Field University Program

With Jim Ogden

August 17–20, 2021; from Murfreesboro, TN

William Rosecrans and Braxton Bragg. Photo montage by Hal Jespersen.

“COMPEL A BATTLE ON OUR OWN GROUND?”: William Rosecrans on the objectives of his Tullahoma advance.

A “victory not bathed in blood.” A campaign with no major battle. Only a “campaign of maneuver.” You are a real student of the Civil War if you have given serious consideration to this key component of Maj. Gen. William Starke Rosecrans’s command tenure. Sadly, if not entirely overlooked, it usually is only briefly reviewed in histories of the war. Because of the way it did turn out, it is easy to say that it is only a campaign of maneuver, but as originally conceived the Federal army commander intended and expected much more. Henry Halleck’s two “great objects” were still to be achieved. Rosecrans hoped that when he advanced from Murfreesboro, much would be accomplished. In this BGES program we’ll examine what Rosecrans hoped would be a campaign that might include not the but rather his planned “Battle for Chattanooga.”


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

6 PM. Gather at our headquarters hotel in Murfreesboro where Jim will introduce you to General Rosecrans, his thinking and combat planning. He is an interesting character whose thinking is both strategic and advanced tactical. He was a man of great capacity and the logic behind this operation, when juxtaposed against the expectations of the national leadership, reveals the depth of Rosecrans’s belief in his ability to deliver decisive results that supported Lincoln’s war objectives. We will break in time for you to have dinner on your own.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Jim Ogden is a jewel! He is one of the best prepared historians that BGES has worked with in its 27 years. That will become obvious as he moves in a precise critical point manner sharing cogent analysis that is so well delivered it is hard to appreciate the years of study and thousands of hours of professional preparation he has experienced.

We’ll begin the day at Rosecrans’s forward base–Murfreesboro–and discuss his preparations and plans, visiting his massive supply base at Fortress Rosecrans and the site of Rosecrans’s actual headquarters. Like Rosecrans generally, we’ll then advance from Murfreesboro and take the field and join the forward movement of Robert Mitchell’s cavalry and Gordon Granger’s Reserve Corps, and then Alexander McCook’s 20th Corps. The engagement and subsequent actions at Rover, Middleton, and Liberty Gap will all be explored. Lunch is included.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Rosecrans was cognizant of his position relative to Bragg’s advanced positioning. Jim moved you with Rosecrans right yesterday. Having seen the initial advance of Rosecrans’s right, today we’ll begin by looking at the advance of his left and Gen. Thomas Crittenden’s 21st Corps. After getting Crittenden moving onto the “Barrens” of Tennessee, we will turn to the advance of solid Gen. George Thomas’s 14th Corps. This will take us the remainder of the day. We’ll join John Wilder’s Lightning Brigade and examine its seizure of Hoover’s Gap and discuss the subsequent fighting at that vital point. With Braxton Bragg’s Highland Rim defenses penetrated, Rosecrans’s initial precondition had been fulfilled, and now you will follow Rosecrans’s army as the Ohio-born commander maneuvered to “compel a battle on our own ground.” After we return to Murfreesboro, we will gather for a group dinner. Lunch and dinner are included.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Terrain is key here as it is in many of the campaigns of the war. The area between Nashville and Chattanooga is broken up by mountainous formation that lured defenders into a sense of security and challenged the aggressors to move deliberately and with caution–a mistake at any point could lay open the offender to a devastating counter-thrust. Conversely, a sure-footed advance properly screened and affirmatively marched could bring decisive opportunities, and it is that which Rosecrans is seeking. He will save the blood of his troops for another day.

Rosecrans’s maneuvers on the “Barrens” and across the Duck River and to the Elk and the Cumberland Mountains will be the focus of the final day of our examination of Rosecrans’s Middle Tennessee phase of his Campaign for Chattanooga. We’ll follow Rosecrans as he tried to bring Bragg to battle without assaulting his opponent’s Tullahoma fortifications, and then across the Elk River where the Confederates withdrew. The effects of the raid of Wilder’s Lightning Brigade to Bragg’s rear as well as that of the rising water on the Elk will be examined. We’ll conclude, much as Rosecrans did, just up the western escarpment of the Cumberland Mountains, looking back into Middle Tennessee. And you, my friends, will have been given an insider’s look as to how professionals examine the American Civil War. Lunch is included. You will be able to depart after 6 PM.

About the Faculty

Jim Ogden is one of the finest military historians in the country. A preservationist of the first order, he often is called upon to lead tours for distinguished visitors to the National Park Service–having taking Vice President Cheney and his family around Chickamauga and the region several times. Jim is the historian for the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park. The interpretation, appearance, and importance of the sites are properly served by his stewardship. Jim’s decades of experience have not only advanced BGES’ understanding of the Civil War in Central Tennessee and Northern Georgia, but have positively affected any number of other students and historians of the war–a truly remarkable resource.

Hotel Information

We will set aside a block of rooms at a hotel in Murfreesboro. We will post and announce when the block is set up and open for reservations. You can expect the hotel to be in the range of $120 per night plus taxes. You are not required to stay at the HQ hotel.


The servicing airport is Nashville (BNA). The area is bisected by I-24 and is just a small jaunt away from I-40 and I-840. There is a lot of growth in the area, and you will find it a nice visit. Allow yourself an extra day to take in the Battle of Stones River or the Battle of Franklin. There is also a Krispy Creme in town.

Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program. has a program to support non-profits IF YOU SIGN UP to support Blue and Gray Education Society (EIN 54-1720582) at AmazonSmile. When you sign up there rather than the normal Amazon site, one-half of one percent of your purchase price will be provided to BGES as a donation from Amazon. This will apply not only on this purchase but others you may make at other times.


Registration includes three lunches and one dinner, a reading book with maps, the academic program, support of a professional historian, tour director, and transportation. We will also provide snacks and cold bottled water.

Register for this program using a secure PayPal link

Registration Type

To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: Any Victory Not Bathed in Blood: William Rosecrans’s Tullahoma Advance

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