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The Vicksburg Assaults, May 19-22, 1863

The Vicksburg Assaults, May 19-22, 1863

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Edited by Steven E. Woodworth and Charles D. Grear


Hardcover (Other formats: E-book)
152 pages, 6 x 9, 11 illustrations

Civil War Campaigns in the West


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About the Book

This anthology is an in-depth examination of General Ulysses S. Grant’s unsuccessful assaults against Confederate defensive lines around the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on May 19 and May 22, 1863.
After a series of victories through the state earlier that spring, Grant’s Army of the Tennessee had reached the critical point in its campaign to capture the city on the hill. Taking Vicksburg would allow the Union to control the Mississippi River and would divide the Confederacy in half. Confederate morale was low, and the prospect of a Union victory in the war appeared even closer before Grant’s assault against General John C. Pemberton’s Army of Mississippi
But due to difficult terrain, strong defenses, and uncoordinated movements, the quick victory Grant desired was unattainable. On the afternoon of May 19, with little rest, preparation, or reconnaissance, Union forces charged the Confederate lines only to be repulsed. A respite between the assaults allowed both sides to reinforce their positions. Early on May 22 the Union artillery sought to soften the stronghold’s defenses before the general attack, but despite the Union forces’ preparation, the fighting proved even more disorganized and vicious. Again Grant failed to move Pemberton. Not wanting to risk more soldiers in a third attack, Grant conceded to the necessity of laying siege. Confederate morale climbed as the Southerners realized they had held their ground against an overwhelming force.
Editors Steven E. Woodworth and Charles D. Grear have assembled five captivating essays from four expert historians into a unique, in-depth volume. Ranging from military to social history, the essays examine the assaults while furthering historical debates on more prominent topics, such as the reactions of Midwesterners to the first failures of Grant’s Vicksburg campaign. The assaults symbolized a turning point in social and economic views of the campaign. Two essays from opposing sides analyze the controversial decisions surrounding the Railroad Redoubt, the site of the bloodiest fighting on May 22. Another examines how the tenacity of Texan reinforcements forced Union soldiers to abandon their gains.
Peppered with first-hand observations and bolstered by an impressive depth of research, this anthology is an invitingly written account and comprehensive assessment. By zeroing in on the two assaults, the contributors offer essential clarity and understanding of these important events within the larger scope of the Civil War’s Vicksburg Campaign.


Steven E. Woodworth, a professor of history at Texas Christian University, is the author or editor of more than thirty books, including This Great Struggle: America’s Civil War, Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861–1865, and Jefferson Davis and His Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West. He is a coeditor of the Civil War Campaigns in the West series.
Charles D. Grear, a professor of history at Central Texas College, is the author or editor of eight books, including The Tennessee Campaign of 1864, Why Texans Fought in the Civil War, and The House Divided: America in the Era of the Civil War & Reconstruction. He is a coeditor of the Civil War Campaigns in the West series.