Book Review: The Vicksburg Assaults, May 19-22, 1863


by Steven E. Woodworth and Charles D. Grear, editors

Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2019. Pp. xiv, 222. Illus., maps, notes, index. $29.50. ISBN: 0809337193

The Attack Grant Regretted

This volume comprises an introduction and five papers that deal with U.S. Grant’s two unsuccessful attempts to take Vicksburg by storm, on May 19th and again on the 22nd.

The first attack was undertaken in the belief the Confederates were broken and that the place might fall to a hasty attack. The “hasty” was in which the attack was mounted caused it to fail due to poor preparation and coordination, and a surprisingly stout defense. The second attack, better prepared and with greater force, was defeated by poor coordination, a failure to follow up local success, command conflicts, and fierce resistance.

Each attack is cover by an essay that gives the reader and overviews of the events, two more papers cover to particular aspects of the second attack, and the final paper looks at reactions to these failures across the heartland.

The overall conclusion is that Grant made one possibly excusable error, and then committed another error in the hope of erasing the first error and avoiding a protracted siege.

The authors, all well known Civil War scholars, use many first-hand accounts as they give us some good battle pieces, look at personality issues among the commanders, notably Grant and John McClernand, and generally shed new light on the events.

One of several volumes planned examining particular aspects of the Vicksburg Campaign, as part of the Southern Illinois series “Civil War Campaigns in the West”, The Vicksburg Assaults is a very useful work for those interested in the Western Theatre, Grant as commander, or the war in general,


Note: The Vicksburg Assaults is also available in several e-editions.

StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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