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

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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alan polk

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Thanks for the review. But I believe you’re the guy who needs to write the definitive work on that battle!
 

alan polk

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Well, you're young enough yet - got plenty of time to realize the truth of my statement .... Me thinks it’s your destiny....
 

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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