The Smoke at Dawn/ General Bragg’s Waterloo At Chattanooga

President Lincoln’s brilliant decision to elevate Ulysses  S. Grant to General in Chief of the Union Army following Grant’s victory at Vicksburg on July 3, 1863 was further justified by the success of Grants first assignment following his promotion in the battle of Chattanooga, Tennessee.


Jeff Shaara in his new historical novel The Smoke at Dawn , the third in his Civil War Trilogy, places Grant in the Cumberland following the Confederate defeat of General Rosecrans by Braxton Bragg at the Battle of Chickamauga Creek. Grant immediately demoted Rosecrans and replaces him with General George Thomas and brings in Sherman’ s army for support. The Union army has been under siege in Chattanooga and Grant orders the siege broken at whatever the cost. Bragg, sinking in his own bombast and his repeated failure to lead , is on the verge of converting a great Confederate victory into a bitter defeat. As Sherman rides to the rescue  of General Thomas and the Union Army, he makes a rare mistake by misreading the geography, giving Bragg one last chance of grasping victory from the jaws of defeat.

There is plenty of drama as Shaara tells the story of this epic battle with the versatile vehicle of historical fiction that , following in his fathers footsteps , is his trademark. Shaara is the son of Pulitzer Prize winning Michael Shaara, author of The Killer Angles.

The two previous novels in the trilogy are A Blaze of Glory , the battle Shiloh and A Chain of Thunder, the Siege of Vicksburg.  Search reads for other Jeff Shaara historical novels based upon the Revolutionary War, Civil War and World War II.


Jeff Shaara continues his magnificent writing  with another Civil War historical novel.  A Blaze of Glory takes the reader to the western theater of the war and the battle of Shiloh. It is the first of  a new Shaara trilogy.  Jeff is the son of  Michael Shaara, author of  the Pulitzer Prize winning Killer Angels. 

Gordon’s Good Reads last reviewed Shaara’s The Final Storm , the World War II battle of Okinawa. (June, 2011)   A Blaze of Glory uses the same Shaara style by viewing the horror of battle through characters with boots on the ground. In this case, a Confederate Cavalry Lieutenant and a Union Private. Shaara holds nothing back in the vivid portrayal of the hand to combat and carnage that occurred when armies lined in formation across from one another enduring volleys of musket fire, artillery canister and grape-shot. He captures egos and indecision as well as bravery and heroism.

” The fight around Shiloh Church had come from the plans and ambitions of generals, and no matter the disaster of that, it was the foot soldiers who would still do the deed, who would be asked to decide the fate of the town, of the country, and more important to many, the fate of the men around them.”  You will walk in the footsteps of Lieutenant James Seeley and Private Fritz “Dutchie” Bauer.

April 6, 1862, 100,000 troops on the field of battle, 25,000 casualties,  including the death of a Confederate General that many say could have determined the outcome of the Civil War and the fate of the Union. Egos abound!  Grant, Beauregard, Johnston, Buell and Sherman are all present. A surprise Confederate attack on superior Union forces. Victory is in hand and then, a stunning decision that is the subject of discussion by Civil War historians to this day. Did  a need for personal glory determine the outcome at Shiloh?

Several years ago Shaara completed the initial Civil war trilogy begun by his father’s Killer Angels by writing Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure. This new trilogy which begins with A Blaze of Glory will concentrate on the war in the western theater and follow Grant’s rise to his appointment by President Lincoln as General in Chief of all Union Forces.

Jeff  Shaara’s historical novels on World War II in addition to The Final Storm ( Okinawa and the dropping of the atomic bomb) are: No Less than Victory ( The Battle of the Bulge, and the fall of the Third Reich)The Steel Wave, ( The Normandy Invasion) and The Rising Tide ( The North Africa and Italy campaign).  He also wrote Gone for Soldiers a novel on the war with Mexico and two books on the American revolution Rise to Rebellion and The Glorious Cause. In Gone for Soldiers you will meet many of the Mexican War officers that later became the generals in Shaara’s Civil War novels.