Monday, January 4, 2010
BOOK REVIEW: VIcksburg 1863 by Winston Groom
When he get's into the siege, Groom quotes extensively from the diaries of Vickburg civilians to give the all important impact on the noncombatants who were trapped there and ruthlessly bombarded by Grant. I also appreciated Groom including the siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana, which was going on at the same time and kept the Union Army split. Port Hudson is about 200 miles south of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River and kept the army of General Nathanial Banks tied up there, and kept that stretch of the river open to the Confederacy until both surrendered.
I also enjoyed Groom's detailing the famous, or infamous, drunken spree that Grant went on during the siege of Vicksburg. The spree was both disgraceful as well has humorous. It was too bad for the Confederates that Grant's irresponible behavior was basically covered up and he was never officially held accountable for it. I thought it courageous and honest to history to cover it as extensively as he did. Too many historians take the politically correct approach and either ignore it or dismiss it as unimportant. Grant deserved to be dismissed from the service, in my opinion.
There was plently of blame to go around for the loss of Vicksburg for the Confederacy. For the most part I think Groom was fair in his conclusions. However I disagree with his viewpoint that the Confederacy had no chance of victory after Vicksburg. It was a crippling blow, but I don't think a fatal one. Probably the Atlanta campaign of 1864 was much more of a fatal blow to the cause of Southern Independence, in my opinion.
I believe the book is a good overview of the entire campaign and I enjoyed the insights about the siege itself the most. I live only about five hours by auto from Vicksburg, so I try to get up there to tour the battlefield every couple of years. It is one of the most extensive battlefield parks in the country and I never get tired of visiting it. I think the visitor center too small, but the book store is pretty good. The driving tour is great with many important features, such as the Third Louisiana Redan, Stockade Redan, and the U.S.S. Cairo, which has its own museum.
Posted by Michael Jones at 5:41 PM