Monday, November 25, 2019

Book News: The Union Assaults at Vicksburg

The second half of 2019 through the first half of 2020 represents a pretty good twelve months for Vicksburg publishing. In addition to the already released The Vicksburg Assaults, May 19-22, 1863 and Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign That Broke the Confederacy, we'll get Timothy Smith's The Union Assaults at Vicksburg: Grant Attacks Pemberton, May 17–22, 1863 in late January from University Press of Kansas and Vicksburg Besieged in June from SIU Press.

While the 2019 essay anthology offers readers a solid overview of the Vicksburg assaults that focuses most of its attention on May 22, Smith's book promises to be the first full treatment of the brief but bloody period between the mid-May arrival of Grant's army before Vicksburg's landward defenses and the onset of siege operations.

Already having authored studies of the Battle of Champion Hill, Grierson's Raid, and an operational overview from Grant's perspective, this will be Smith's fourth book related to the Vicksburg Campaign. From the description: "Establishing a day-to-day—and occasionally minute-to-minute—timeline for this crucial week, military historian Timothy B. Smith invites readers to follow the Vicksburg assaults as they unfold. His finely detailed account reaches from the offices of statesmen and politicians to the field of battle, with exacting analysis and insight that ranges from the highest level of planning and command to the combat experience of the common soldier. As closely observed and vividly described as each assault is, Smith’s book also puts the sum of these battles into the larger context of the Vicksburg campaign, as well as the entire war."

Carrying the story forward will be the well-timed release of Vicksburg Besieged, the third Vicksburg Campaign volume from SIU Press's Civil War Campaigns in the West series. Details are still pretty scarce on this one, with the only public information available being the following little descriptive tidbit: "Ranging in scope from military to social history, this book examines formal siege operations, sharpshooting, night raids in no-man's-land, the experience of Vicksburg civilians, and other military operations connected with the final phase of the long struggle for control of the great Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River." I'll revisit it later.

[Addendum: There are no hints either way, but Smith's start date of May 17 also makes me wonder if the book includes a detailed account of the Battle of Big Black River Bridge or just begins in its aftermath.]

1 comment:

  1. Drew: Looking forward to this one. If I recall correctly, Tim had an essay on Big Black River Bridge in the first SIU Vicksburg collection.

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