Book Review Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign that Broke the Confederacy by Donald L. Miller

Harms88

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 13, 2019
Location
North of the Wall & South of the Canucks
Title: Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign that Broke the Confederacy
Author: Donald L. Miller (Masters of the Air, D-Days in the Pacific)
Pages: 688
Price: 23.98 (hardback), 20.00 (paperback), 19.84 (Audible), 16.99 (Kindle)

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Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign that Broke the Confederacy was by no means on my wishlist when I was scrolling through the available audible books on the Civil War. However, a vast majority of the ones I came across in the first couple of minutes were related to one of two topics. The first was Stonewall Jackson and the second was on the partnership between Lee and Jackson. Outside of these topics, I had already read most of the books that had audible versions, so unless I wanted to stick to the Lee-Jackson worship that makes up a sizable portion of Civil War writing, I had to go quiet deep as it was. Especially if I wanted a book that would last me several days of listening on Audible to drag out my Audible credit.

Thus I settled upon Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign that Broke the Confederacy by Donald L. Miller, which had the impressive runtime of 21 hours. My current work situation would allow me a full week of listening. Afterwards, I will be referring to the book by simply Vicksburg for simplicity sake.

My first impression was quiet simple. The narrator, Rick Adamson is not the liveliest of narrators. He almost sounds like a semi-bored history teacher, and the first hour I was so unimpressed that I seriously considered returning the book to get my credit back so I could spend it on a book that was more lively, even if I had to delve into that Lee-Jackson worship that I am wont at this time to avoid.

I can say for a certainty, I am glad that I did not return it.

The book is not just a history of the Campaign, even though a book that strictly focused on the Campaign could easily have filled up all 21 hours of narrative. There are books on Champion Hill that by itself exceeds a 530 page word count. The Siege by it's lonesome could fill a thousand page volume easily.

This book has multiple goals, which I can boil down to five.

Goal 1: Detail the early Civil War career of Grant leading up to his capture of Vicksburg.

Goal 2: Describe the history of Vicksburg and the Mississippi River Delta region.

Goal 3: Give full light to the navy's contributions to the victory, and the steps taken from both ends of the Mississippi, the Gulf of Mexico and St. Louis sides, in achieving victory.

Goal 4: The shocking contrast between Grant's surprising domination of the Western Theater from 62-63, and the Confederacy's missteps at taking advantages of the weaknesses he at times showed.

Goal 5: The collapse of the economic and social economy of Mississippi.

I can report that each goal is not only done succinctly, but clearly. The work describes how Vicksburg went from being a Unionist stronghold populace to a fiercely loyal Confederate bastion, shining light on how the Deep South was not nearly as united in it's desire to secede as is sometimes believed. It shows Grant's fight to maintain control of his army and operations with the support of such as Porter and Sherman and the on-again, off-again support of Halleck. It portrays Grant as a man whose genius was his ability to improvise, sometimes at a split second, allowing him to confuse his opponent to no end.

There is ample space given to how the navy, both Blue and Brown water varieties, assisted in the Western Theater. Not only the northern navies, but the Confederates as well, giving rip-roaring accounts of Ironclads fighting Timberclads and all sorts of great adventures on the rivers.

One thing it does extremely well that is missing from a lot of Civil War histories, especially in regards to this stage of the war, is to show just how socially disruptive the Civil War was. It portrays Grant as being one of the first to initiate social programs for freed slaves before he was fully onboard with the policy of militarily imposed emancipation.

It shows how the massive enslaved populace, suddenly freed from the stringent oversight of the white male populace, ran rampant over the terrified white populace, ransacking homes for weapons and holding white women at gunpoint so they could retrieve more weapons. It also showed how while rape and overall sexual assault against white southerners was not common, it was actually pretty rampant among the freed blacks by the very troops that were seen as liberators.

It tells the tale of one officer who fought at Milliken's Bend who had been tasked with investigating these abuses and was brought up on charges when he turned over one of the abuser to being whipped by black soldiers whose loved ones had been sexual mistreated by him. When brought before the courts-martial, he was able to bring forth so much documentation of similar cases that he was not only exonerated, but Grant ordered the report to be buried due to the damage it could have on the Union cause.

One thing that was missing that I would have liked in the book that was missing is that Fred Dent Grant, Grant's son, was actually wounded during the campaign. Yet the wealth of information we get in the book makes up for anything that may have been missed.

There are a few historical inaccuracies that are minuscule enough to be of no real issue. Such as shrinking the mine exploded on the 3rd Louisiana Redoubt by ten feet, or accidentally saying that Sid S. Champion (who owned Champion Hill) died at the Battle of Murfreesboro after serving under Joe Johnston when he actually lived past the end of the war.

I would give the book a 4.5 out of 5.
 
Last edited:

Belfoured

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Title: Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign that Broke the Confederacy
Author: Donald L. Miller (Masters of the Air, D-Days in the Pacific)
Pages: 688
Price: 23.98 (hardback), 20.00 (paperback), 19.84 (Audible), 16.99 (Kindle)

View attachment 358806

Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign that Broke the Confederacy was by no means on my wishlist when I was scrolling through the available audible books on the Civil War. However, a vast majority of the ones I came across in the first couple of minutes were related to one of two topics. The first was Stonewall Jackson and the second was on the partnership between Lee and Jackson. Outside of these topics, I had already read most of the books that had audible versions, so unless I wanted to stick to the Lee-Jackson worship that makes up a sizable portion of Civil War writing, I had to go quiet deep as it was. Especially if I wanted a book that would last me several days of listening on Audible to drag out my Audible credit.

Thus I settled upon Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign that Broke the Confederacy by Donald L. Miller, which had the impressive runtime of 21 hours. My current work situation would allow me a full week of listening. Afterwards, I will be referring to the book by simply Vicksburg for simplicity sake.

My first impression was quiet simple. The narrator, Rick Adamson is not the liveliest of narrators. He almost sounds like a semi-bored history teacher, and the first hour I was so unimpressed that I seriously considered returning the book to get my credit back so I could spend it on a book that was more lively, even if I had to delve into that Lee-Jackson worship that I am wont at this time to avoid.

I can say for a certainty, I am glad that I did not return it.

The book is not just a history of the Campaign, even though a book that strictly focused on the Campaign could easily have filled up all 21 hours of narrative. There are books on Champion Hill that by itself exceeds a 530 page word count. The Siege by it's lonesome could fill a thousand page volume easily.

This book has multiple goals, which I can boil down to five.

Goal 1: Detail the early Civil War career of Grant leading up to his capture of Vicksburg.

Goal 2: Describe the history of Vicksburg and the Mississippi River Delta region.

Goal 3: Give full light to the navy's contributions to the victory, and the steps taken from both ends of the Mississippi, the Gulf of Mexico and St. Louis sides, in achieving victory.

Goal 4: The shocking contrast between Grant's surprising domination of the Western Theater from 62-63, and the Confederacy's missteps at taking advantages of the weaknesses he at times showed.

Goal 5: The collapse of the economic and social economy of Mississippi.

I can report that each goal is not only done succinctly, but clearly. The work describes how Vicksburg went from being a Unionist stronghold populace to a fiercely loyal Confederate bastion, shining light on how the Deep South was not nearly as united in it's desire to secede as is sometimes believed. It shows Grant's fight to maintain control of his army and operations with the support of such as Porter and Sherman and the on-again, off-again support of Halleck. It portrays Grant as a man whose genius was his ability to improvise, sometimes at a split second, allowing him to confuse his opponent to no end.

There is ample space given to how the navy, both Blue and Brown water varieties, assisted in the Western Theater. Not only the northern navies, but the Confederates as well, giving rip-roaring accounts of Ironclads fighting Timberclads and all sorts of great adventures on the rivers.

One thing it does extremely well that is missing from a lot of Civil War histories, especially in regards to this stage of the war, is to show just how socially disruptive the Civil War was. It portrays Grant as being one of the first to initiate social programs for freed slaves before he was fully onboard with the policy of militarily imposed emancipation.

It shows how the massive enslaved populace, suddenly freed from the stringent oversight of the white male populace, ran rampant over the terrified white populace, ransacking homes for weapons and holding white women at gunpoint so they could retrieve more weapons. It also showed how while rape and overall sexual assault against white southerners was not common, it was actually pretty rampant among the freed blacks by the very troops that were seen as liberators.

It tells the tale of one officer who fought at Milliken's Bend who had been tasked with investigating these abuses and was brought up on charges when he turned over one of the abuser to being whipped by black soldiers whose loved ones had been sexual mistreated by him. When brought before the courts-martial, he was able to bring forth so much documentation of similar cases that he was not only exonerated, but Grant ordered the report to be buried due to the damage it could have on the Union cause.

One thing that was missing that I would have liked in the book that was missing is that Fred Dent Grant, Grant's son, was actually wounded during the campaign. Yet the wealth of information we get in the book makes up for anything that may have been missed.

There are a few historical inaccuracies that are minuscule enough to be of no real issue. Such as shrinking the mine exploded on the 3rd Louisiana Redoubt by ten feet, or accidentally saying that Sid S. Champion (who owned Champion Hill) died at the Battle of Murfreesboro after serving under Joe Johnston when he actually lived past the end of the war.

I would give the book a 4.5 out of 5.
Thanks for the review. I've only read parts so far, but this confirms my impression. It seems like a good, and different, supplement for Bearss, Ballard, and Grabau, instead of just recycling.
 

Specster

Sergeant Major
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
Location
Mass.
Title: Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign that Broke the Confederacy
Author: Donald L. Miller (Masters of the Air, D-Days in the Pacific)
Pages: 688
Price: 23.98 (hardback), 20.00 (paperback), 19.84 (Audible), 16.99 (Kindle)

View attachment 358806

Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign that Broke the Confederacy was by no means on my wishlist when I was scrolling through the available audible books on the Civil War. However, a vast majority of the ones I came across in the first couple of minutes were related to one of two topics. The first was Stonewall Jackson and the second was on the partnership between Lee and Jackson. Outside of these topics, I had already read most of the books that had audible versions, so unless I wanted to stick to the Lee-Jackson worship that makes up a sizable portion of Civil War writing, I had to go quiet deep as it was. Especially if I wanted a book that would last me several days of listening on Audible to drag out my Audible credit.

Thus I settled upon Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign that Broke the Confederacy by Donald L. Miller, which had the impressive runtime of 21 hours. My current work situation would allow me a full week of listening. Afterwards, I will be referring to the book by simply Vicksburg for simplicity sake.

My first impression was quiet simple. The narrator, Rick Adamson is not the liveliest of narrators. He almost sounds like a semi-bored history teacher, and the first hour I was so unimpressed that I seriously considered returning the book to get my credit back so I could spend it on a book that was more lively, even if I had to delve into that Lee-Jackson worship that I am wont at this time to avoid.

I can say for a certainty, I am glad that I did not return it.

The book is not just a history of the Campaign, even though a book that strictly focused on the Campaign could easily have filled up all 21 hours of narrative. There are books on Champion Hill that by itself exceeds a 530 page word count. The Siege by it's lonesome could fill a thousand page volume easily.

This book has multiple goals, which I can boil down to five.

Goal 1: Detail the early Civil War career of Grant leading up to his capture of Vicksburg.

Goal 2: Describe the history of Vicksburg and the Mississippi River Delta region.

Goal 3: Give full light to the navy's contributions to the victory, and the steps taken from both ends of the Mississippi, the Gulf of Mexico and St. Louis sides, in achieving victory.

Goal 4: The shocking contrast between Grant's surprising domination of the Western Theater from 62-63, and the Confederacy's missteps at taking advantages of the weaknesses he at times showed.

Goal 5: The collapse of the economic and social economy of Mississippi.

I can report that each goal is not only done succinctly, but clearly. The work describes how Vicksburg went from being a Unionist stronghold populace to a fiercely loyal Confederate bastion, shining light on how the Deep South was not nearly as united in it's desire to secede as is sometimes believed. It shows Grant's fight to maintain control of his army and operations with the support of such as Porter and Sherman and the on-again, off-again support of Halleck. It portrays Grant as a man whose genius was his ability to improvise, sometimes at a split second, allowing him to confuse his opponent to no end.

There is ample space given to how the navy, both Blue and Brown water varieties, assisted in the Western Theater. Not only the northern navies, but the Confederates as well, giving rip-roaring accounts of Ironclads fighting Timberclads and all sorts of great adventures on the rivers.

One thing it does extremely well that is missing from a lot of Civil War histories, especially in regards to this stage of the war, is to show just how socially disruptive the Civil War was. It portrays Grant as being one of the first to initiate social programs for freed slaves before he was fully onboard with the policy of militarily imposed emancipation.

It shows how the massive enslaved populace, suddenly freed from the stringent oversight of the white male populace, ran rampant over the terrified white populace, ransacking homes for weapons and holding white women at gunpoint so they could retrieve more weapons. It also showed how while rape and overall sexual assault against white southerners was not common, it was actually pretty rampant among the freed blacks by the very troops that were seen as liberators.

It tells the tale of one officer who fought at Milliken's Bend who had been tasked with investigating these abuses and was brought up on charges when he turned over one of the abuser to being whipped by black soldiers whose loved ones had been sexual mistreated by him. When brought before the courts-martial, he was able to bring forth so much documentation of similar cases that he was not only exonerated, but Grant ordered the report to be buried due to the damage it could have on the Union cause.

One thing that was missing that I would have liked in the book that was missing is that Fred Dent Grant, Grant's son, was actually wounded during the campaign. Yet the wealth of information we get in the book makes up for anything that may have been missed.

There are a few historical inaccuracies that are minuscule enough to be of no real issue. Such as shrinking the mine exploded on the 3rd Louisiana Redoubt by ten feet, or accidentally saying that Sid S. Champion (who owned Champion Hill) died at the Battle of Murfreesboro after serving under Joe Johnston when he actually lived past the end of the war.

I would give the book a 4.5 out of 5.
I thought Chernow's book on Grant was much more entertaining. The narrorator didnt grate on my ears - he was not an issue. I think the author focused too much on the evils of slavery - I think we understand that in 2021. For some reason my audio book lost the May 22-24 assault on Vicksburg fortifications in which the Union lost many men in a rediculous assulat. I believe in Grants memoirs he regrets that assulat and of course Cold Harbor.

Not the worst book on the ACW but not the best......sometimes a good map inserted into a book could have spoke volumes.
 

Harms88

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 13, 2019
Location
North of the Wall & South of the Canucks
On these audio-books giving detailed recounts, how do you, the listener, deal with no Bibliography or Footnote Index?
Lubliner.

The problem I have with a lot of books is that half the book is in the footnotes. You can literally have half a pag that is just foootnotes that could have been stuck in the main page just fine. So I don’t have any issues with not having footnotes in the audiobooks, personally.
 

Lubliner

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
The problem I have with a lot of books is that half the book is in the footnotes. You can literally have half a pag that is just foootnotes that could have been stuck in the main page just fine. So I don’t have any issues with not having footnotes in the audiobooks, personally.
I figured they were more for review and pleasure than research and study, especially when time is so limited. To delve further beckons the expense of the bound book, which by then is already reviewed. So yes, it can be a good idea to pursue.
Lubliner.
 
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