Civil War literature is littered with accounts of battles from Sumter to Appomattox that were all somehow the crucial and deciding battle of the armed portion of that long and bloody conflict. Gott’s case is as well made as any but finally, like all such studies, it describes a single symptom better than the disease. It could well be argued that slavery suffered a fatal blow with the adoption of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 – before even the Constitution was formalized – and that all of the debates, oratory and posturing through 1865 we just so much smoke that gave cover to the true business of the United States – EXPANSION!
Certainly the contest of 1861-65 resulted in the victory of the forces of Expansion because they were able to use the tools necessary for that policy – transportation (especially rail and river) and manufacturing – to impose a military victory on an opponent that they had always had the advantage of geographical encirclement on. The far more devastating victory was the final displacement of a social order that had lasted from Runnymeade to Sumter in which the worst excesses of tyranny were held in check by the preservation of principles that had their origins in vox Dei rather than vox populi.
The consolation of the South is that despite its military victory the north has never achieved a complete cultural or intellectual victory. In spite of the strident, often hysterical, voices of the BIG government for more EXPANSION forces, the pale battalions of the Southern dead still march silently forward proclaiming that it is ONE man joining with his neighbors to protect the rights of EVERY man that makes a difference. Gott’s book is a wonderful study of the fog of war and a worthy entry in the lessons learned category it is not a final answer.
Where the South lost the war : an analysis of the Fort Henry-Fort Donelson campaign, February 1862 Kendall D. Gott Mechanicsburg, PA : Stackpole Books, c 2003 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xvii, 346 p.,  p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 319-331) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG
With the collapse of the Confederate defenses at Forts Henry and Donelson on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, the entire Tennessee Valley was open to Union invasion and control. These Northern victories set up the 1864 Atlanta Campaign that cut the Confederacy in two. Had Confederate planning and leadership been better, no one can say what difference it might have made to the Civil War in the West and the outcome of the war itself.
Gott blends his experiences as a combat veteran with those of a military historian to provide a gripping narration of day-to-day operations. His penetrating analyses of the leaders, their command decisions, and their strengths and weaknesses combine to give the readers a masterful account of the campaign.