Saturday, September 17, 2005

Red River Roundup - Part 1

For such a large (and to me fascinating) campaign, General Banks' near disastrous 1864 combined land and naval campaign up the Red River has garnered relatively little scholarly attention. Amazingly, unlike many far smaller and less significant fights, none of the campaign's battles has a modern book length treatment.

What we do have is a number of short surveys, the best of which remains the oldest of them all, Ludwell Johnson's Red River Campaign: Politics and Cotton in the Civil War. Johnson examines the campaign from all relevant angles--military, political, and economic. The battle descriptions are brief and the maps crude, providing the reader with only a minimal but adequate military overview (this is in common with all the subsequent Red River surveys). The book is as its best in describing the campaign's shady and rather disgraceful economic and political origins and how they trumped purely military issues. No one looks good here, from Lincoln on down.

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