The Vicksburg Campaign: March 29–May 18, 1863
Edited by Steven E. Woodworth and Charles D. Grear; Southern Illinois University Press, 2013, $32.50
As with previous volumes in the SIU Press’ “Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland” series, Steven E. Woodworth and Charles D. Grear gather an impressive array of talent to deliver an enjoyable look at the pre-Siege portion of the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign. A particularly noteworthy aspect is its thorough and fresh examination of the campaign’s social impact on Vicksburg and the surrounding areas. The continual fighting and movements of both armies left an indelible imprint on the physical and cultural landscape of the region long after the war. There is also a nice look at the role of Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s spy network, which consisted mostly of escaped slaves (“contrabands”).
Tactics and military strategy get a telling look as well, as do the roles played by several generals (Confederate commanders come across less favorably than their Union counterparts in this light). Overall this is another strong contribution from the “Heartland” team. One unfortunate omission, however, is the lack of specific material on the key Battle of Champion Hill. Although the editors explain that new book-length treatments of the battle already exist, the omission is curious nevertheless.