Tennessee Thunder

A Tale of Two Armies

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
780 Pages
Reviewed on 06/16/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Tennessee Thunder: A Tale of Two Armies is a work of fiction penned by author Daniel Frederick Korn in the historical fiction, mystery, and interpersonal drama genres. This enthralling epic work recounts the intense battles of Stones River and Chickamauga during the American Civil War, focusing on the contrasting leadership styles of Union General William Starke Rosecrans and Confederate General Braxton Bragg. Amidst the backdrop of relentless warfare in 1862, the narrative explores the strategic significance of these battles and their profound impact on the course of the war, highlighting the resilience of the Union army and the strategic setbacks faced by the Confederates. Korn's meticulous and detailed research crafts a truly immersive journey into the heart of some of the Civil War's most pivotal battles.

The atmosphere and multisensory details immerse readers in realistic historical settings with all the dialogue touches, attitudes, and ways of life. The vivid storytelling also extends from this instantly engrossing setting into the ensemble cast of characters. Korn brought to life the harrowing experiences of soldiers and commanders on both sides of the conflict with a keen sense of balance and objectivity, showing exactly how war is experienced, and the similarities that all soldiers face. Beyond the action and adventure, the book also provides a comprehensive understanding of the strategic importance of the battles of Stones River and Chickamauga, shedding light on their lasting consequences for the war effort. Tennessee Thunder entertains just as much as it informs, which is a rare skill indeed, and Korn's narrative shifts back into those exciting moments on a hairpin turn to capture the ferocity and chaos of combat. In quieter moments the intrigue continues, delving into the complexities of military leadership and decision-making with some subtle contextual clues to remind readers of the attitudes and ideas of the time. I gained a newfound appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who fought in these battles and the profound impact they had on the outcome of the war. Overall, Tennessee Thunder is a compelling account of courage, resilience, and the enduring legacy of America's deadliest conflict. Recommended to historical fiction enthusiasts everywhere.

Gaius Konstantine

"Sometimes, destiny reaches out and tags men for greatness." However, more often than not, destiny can be cruel and only provides opportunities that men can squander. In Tennessee Thunder: A Tale Of Two Armies by Daniel Frederick Korn, we see numerous examples of men rising to the occasion or coming up short. The novel focuses on the American Civil War's Western theater and the men who shaped its outcome. The Battle of Shiloh has come and gone, and General Lee in Virginia has just defeated the Federals at Fredericksburg, prompting him to observe, "It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it." Meanwhile, another battle is shaping in the West at Stones River as the Confederate Army of Tennessee prepares to meet the Federals under Rosecrans. As the story progresses to the Battle of Chickamauga, the would-be Napoleons on both sides will come to understand the horrific cost of war. 

Tennessee Thunder by Daniel Frederick Korn portrays the conflict between two armies and the clash between personalities, even when they fought on the same side. Braxton Bragg and William Rosecrans did not only have each other to contend with but their subordinates as well, and this novel is a product of meticulous research about these men. Though they are all historical figures, Daniel has infused them with living personalities, allowing me to get inside their thoughts. In addition to exceptional character development, Tennessee Thunder offers unparalleled immersion in the setting and an excellent view of the tactics that shaped the battles. Indeed, studying the maps and disposition of troops provides insight into how the fights would unfold. This book is exceptionally detailed and researched. Overall, this is a superb read for students of military history and a must-read for Civil War buffs.

Asher Syed

Tennessee Thunder: A Tale of Two Armies by Daniel F. Korn is a fictional recreation of The Battle of Chickamauga during the American Civil War, through the points of view of different characters. Korn depicts the Confederate Army of Tennessee, led by General Braxton Bragg, pitted against the Union Army of the Cumberland under Major General William Rosecrans. Initially, there are Union successes but as the story moves forward, we see the Confederate forces launching a fierce counterattack. Korn narrates from the top down and alternate angles portray scenes from the rising action to the battle, retreat, and a surprise turn of the wind. The battle is secondary to the individuals immediately impacted by events, personalizing history in possibly only one of a few literal versions of winning a battle but losing the war.

I'm a British reader who knows very little about the American Civil War but loves military fiction, and so I did approach Daniel F. Korn's Tennessee Thunder a bit differently than an American reader might. I was looking for an authentic tale where I would meet some interesting military characters and the men who made the big decisions. My favorite parts were when the characters discussed concepts that were completely foreign to me, like the different tribes of Native Americans, and tidbits that tie in, such as how Chickamauga is Cherokee for “River of Death.” I found that to be strangely prophetic. I admit that I chuckled a little when reading a scene discussing Colonel Dan McCook and how the Union Army captured Confederate “teamsters, a handful of privates, and an entire regimental band.” Musical band, that is. I liked Korn's writing style and how the story was accessible to a reader who went in blind and I am certain others will enjoy it as much as I have. Very highly recommended.

Jamie Michele

Tennessee Thunder: A Tale of Two Armies by Daniel F. Korn revolves around the Battle of Chickamauga, a deeply significant but less-discussed American Civil War battle near Chickamauga Creek in Georgia, between the Confederate Army of Tennessee, commanded by General Braxton Bragg, and the Union Army of the Cumberland, led by Major General William Rosecrans. Korn expands on this crucial engagement and the series of conflicts preceding it, shedding light on the diverse array of individuals who shaped the course of the war. Through an exploration of the perspectives of both Union and Confederate forces and others around it, Korn delivers a comprehensive portrayal of the human elements from the ground up of the war's bloodiest battles, with heavy casualties and stories to be told on both sides.

“Hell was about to write a new chapter of death in the Georgia wilderness.” Doesn't that line just give you chills? Tennessee Thunder by Daniel F. Korn is absolutely full of them, blending fact with personalized fiction in both scope and scale within the story. On the micro level, Korn takes us into conversations that bring both real and fictional historical figures to life, so we see General Bragg's frustration and impatience with his subordinates, General Hardee's cautiousness and attention to detail, and General Polk's pompousness and reluctance to follow orders all effectively depicted. With the facts, the historical accuracy is mind-blowing. Korn inserts details like the use of Spencers, a type of repeating rifle used by Union cavalry. We know how the battle and the war ends, but it's the people on the ground who make an epic like Korn's novel work, and, hand on heart, cover to cover, this book sings.

Grant Leishman

Tennessee Thunder: A Tale of Two Armies by Daniel Frederick Korn is a monumental piece of historical fiction that delves deeply into a couple of critical battles during the U.S. Civil War in the fight for control of Tennessee. The charismatic and greatly admired General William Starke Rosecrans led the Cumberland Army of the Union deep into Tennessee to wrest control from the Confederate Army of Tennessee led by the irascible and hot-tempered General Braxton Bragg. It is 1863 and the war has already proven to be one of the deadliest and bloodiest in history but the two upcoming battles of Stones River and Chickamauga will bring a new level of senseless death and destruction. As both sides face off across an already devastated land, the battles will see-saw back and forth with every gain and loss of territory accompanied by an unprecedented level of death, injury, and sickness. Critical to the future direction of the war, this battle for control of Kentucky and middle Tennessee will be examined in fine detail from both sides of the battle lines.

Tennessee Thunder is without a doubt the most comprehensive account of a battle that I have ever read. Author Daniel Frederick Korn has researched carefully and brings readers much more than just a recounting of the battle, the casualties, and the horrors of the war. He takes readers inside the minds of many of the participants, from both high-ranking officers to the lowest of soldiers. The author beautifully weaves the historical facts into a narrative that exposes the mindsets and emotional turmoil experienced by those involved. An author who can both educate and entertain is to be greatly appreciated. For those who love the pace, the adrenaline rush, and the sheer horror of the battle, Korn pulls no punches with highly descriptive and evocative writing. Some of the best aspects are the private, personal conversations between the soldiers, as well as the letters home where they express their fears and hopes for the future. I particularly appreciated that this story is told from both sides of the Civil War discussion. History may be written by the victors but it is up to authors to present a balanced and nuanced version of the particulars and there is no doubt Korn is a master at doing this. Perhaps the most poignant moment is the man who became known as the Angel of Marye’s Heights, Lieutenant Kirkland, who at immense risk to his safety walked into no-man’s land between the two armies to give water to the injured and dying soldiers, whatever color their uniform. What also stood out for me was the conviction, especially of the ordinary soldiers, with which those from the South fought. To them it seemed simple; the Yankees had invaded their homes and for that, they must be defeated and sent back. This book is a monumental read but it is worth every wonderful word of its telling. I marveled at the author’s beautifully descriptive prose and I can highly recommend this book.