Book Review Chickasaw Bayou: A Confederate Victory in the Vicksburg Campaign

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huskerblitz

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Maybe a tad dated since we weren't doing book reviews yet, but here is the review I posted on Amazon for this book by Michael Dean Jones
We have some discussion of the book on @7th Mississippi Infantry thread https://civilwartalk.com/threads/chickasaw-bayou-a-confederate-victory-in-the-vicksburg-campaign.112642/


Much anticipated full-length book on his often-overlooked battle outside of Vicksburg in December of 1862. Besides a small complaint about the wrong casualty figures for De Courcy's brigade on the Dec. 27th (the author cites the figures for the 28th), I haven't found any blatant errors. Although a few would take issue with his statement of the number of black confederates used by Louisiana regiments at Chickasaw Bayou (someone else can challenge those assertions). A few chosen words clearly cement the book from a more Southern viewpoint, but the vast majority appears to be quite balanced and unbiased. Jones is redundant in a couple of locations with using the same quote in two different locations which, when read, appears to be focusing on a certain section of the battle when the quote covers a larger battlefield. He also repeats himself in a couple of spots. I like that he uses a few soldier histories but after studying this conflict for the past two years, there are so many missed opportunities that could have added and filled this book with a lot more human perspective on this battle from other histories written by participants in this conflict. It's also disappointing Jones didn't cite more from Bearrs and Winchel (especially Winchel's Blue and Gray magazine essay) and Gildner's thesis on Chickasaw Bayou. In hindsight, the author probably should have.

But it's not all bad. The book, at about 73 actual text pages, reads pretty fast. Jones also uses both period and author-drawn maps throughout the book which really helps in visualizing the land if you haven't been there, which remains largely the same as it was in 1862 There are also a number of photos, mostly studio portraits of commanders, that help break up the text and give a face to those who commanded troops related to Chickasaw Bayou.

I also agree with his closing assessment, "the Confederates out-generaled and out-performed the Federals at Chickasaw Bayou: That is the primary reason why the Confederates won and the Federals lost."

I haven't read other works by Jones, but I appreciate the effort to give this unsung battle its just due with a book of its own. There are a number of diaries, letters, soldier histories, etc. that could have fleshed out this story a lot more. For those unfamiliar with Chickasaw Bayou Jones' work is a great place to start but you'll want to read Winchel's essay as well.
 
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huskerblitz

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I should add when I wrote this review, I had not yet read Bearrs' portion on Chickasaw Bayou. While Bearrs obviously is considered the Gold Standard of everything Vicksburg, do not discount Winchel's Blue and Gray essay on Chickasaw Bayou. Both do a great job at describing the battle, Winchel more so in soldier first-hand accounts. But if you want a brief overview, Michael Dean Jones' book on the topic will work as well.
 
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Coonewah Creek

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Thanks for sharing. I haven't picked that one up yet. My great-grandfather's older brother was with the 31st Louisiana Infantry (apparently recruited in Mississippi as a part of the Catahoula Battalion) and was killed there. The date is uncertain, either the 28th or 29th of December. I presume while the 31st was deployed defensively near the Indian Mound area. I still need to learn more about that. I understand that in some places the fighting was very close quarters and was quite vicious.
 
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Thanks for posting my old link !

My review of the booklet hasn't changed, but at least Mr. Michael Dan Jones created some interest in the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou.
East Tennessee Confederate Soldier on the cover is Sergeant James Bishop White, Company B 60th Tennessee. He was captured along with his brother and Lieutenant Jasper White at Big Black River, May 17, 1863. James spent the remainder of the war at Fort Deleware, Jasper at Johnson's Island. The 60th TN along with the 61st and 62nd TN was part of John Crawford Vaughn's Brigade. The East Tennesseans were commended for their service at Chickasaw Bayou:

The East Tennessee Brigade arrived on December 26, 1862, and there followed the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou and Chickasaw Bluffs. The first engagement of any consequence in which the Brigade was involved occurred December 26-29, 1862 when the Federals made an assault on the defenses of Vicksburg. General Stephen D. Lee’s Brigade formed the right of the line of defense, General S. M. Barton’s the center, and General Vaughn’s the left. General Vaughn reported that on the second day he sent the 62nd to re-enforce Lee; the 60th to re-enforce Barton on the 3rd day; leaving one regiment, the 61st to defend the abattis. Pemberton’s report stated; “on the left, commanded by Brigadier General Vaughn, the heavy abattis prevented the approach of the enemy except with sharpshooters who advanced continuously, but were met firmly by his East Tennesseans.”

An inspection report by Bob E. Houston, Captain and Assistant Inspector General, for January-February, 1863 on Company “G” 60th Tennessee stated: "I take pleasure in stating that in discipline, efficiency and military appearance this company exceeds that of any I have ever seen in Volunteer service".

,
Three months in the "filthy ditches", (how a number of East Tennesseans referred to the Vicksburg trenches in their letters to home), surely made a huge difference for these "reluctant rebels".
 
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huskerblitz

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Thanks for posting my old link !

My review of the booklet hasn't changed, but at least Mr. Michael Dan Jones created some interest in the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou.
Have I missed something? Your old link? Did I miss your review of this book? If so, I want to make sure I read it! I feel lost right about now, like I'm missing something. :O o:
 
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huskerblitz

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Hah !

That was one of the first links you posted in this thread.

:smoke:
Yeah, not one of my finer moments...I read this thread again yesterday like I just woke up and was completely lost.

In any case, I would again highly recommend the Blue and Gray Magazine covering Chickasaw Bayou. Combined with the maps there is not a better source out there. And of course, if you can find them, Ed Bearrs first volume is also a great read. Steven Woodworth's book on the Army of the Tennessee, "Nothing but Victory" also has an entire chapter devoted to Chickasaw Bayou.
 
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