The Union Assaults at Vicksburg
Grant Attacks Pemberton, May 17–22, 1863
Timothy B. Smith
It was the third week of May 1863, and after seven months and six attempts, Ulysses S. Grant was finally at the doorstep of Vicksburg. What followed was a series of attacks and maneuvers against the last major section of the Mississippi River controlled by the Confederacy—and one of the most important operations of the Civil War. Grant intended to end the campaign quickly by assault, but the stalwart defense of Vicksburg’s garrison changed his plans. The Union Assaults at Vicksburg is the first comprehensive account of this quick attempt to capture Vicksburg, which proved critical to the Union’s ultimate success and Grants eventual solidification as one of the most significant military commanders in American history.
Establishing a day-to-day—;and occasionally minute-to-minute—;timeline for this crucial week, military historian Timothy B. Smith invites readers to follow the Vicksburg assaults as they unfold. His finely detailed account reaches from the offices of statesmen and politicians to the field of battle, with exacting analysis and insight that ranges from the highest level of planning and command to the combat experience of the common soldier. As closely observed and vividly described as each assault is, Smith’s book also puts the sum of these battles into the larger context of the Vicksburg campaign, as well as the entire war. His deeply informed, in-depth work thus provides the first full view of a key but little-studied turning point in the fortunes of the Union army in the West, Ulysses S. Grant, and the United States of America.
“One can argue that each of Smith’s books can lay claim to being the new standard treatment of its subject matter.”
—Civil War Books and Authors
“Though the Union assaults accomplished little in an operational sense, Grant nevertheless emerged triumphant from the campaign, largely due to his overwhelming final success. Smith has given us the definitive study of that effort.”
—Journal of Military HistorySee all reviews...
“Readers with an interest in the Vicksburg Campaign will find this study well worth their time.”
“Engagingly written, well researched, and complete with handsomely rendered maps, Smith’s book is a worthy contribution to the historical literature, and one that enhances the author’s standing as a leading scholar of military operations in the western theater of the Civil War.”
—Journal of Southern History
“This important work is expertly researched, illuminating, thought provoking, detailed, engaging, and a real page turner. Enthusiasts will not go wrong by purchasing this work.”
—New York Military Affairs Symposium Review
“In providing definitive-level coverage of yet another important western theater event, The Union Assaults on Vicksburg only further cements Timothy Smith’s status as an indispensable force in the field of Civil War military history. The volume is an essential contribution to a Vicksburg literature that is slowly but surely reaching the maturation level that it deserves as one of the war’s most momentous campaigns. Highly recommended.”
—Civil War Books and Authors
“Tim Smith has done it again. His book on U. S. Grant’s first attack on Vicksburg is another tour de force. There is no other historian who knows Civil War battles better than Smith, especially the conflict at Vicksburg. Civil War scholars and buffs are in for yet another excellent Timothy B. Smith battle account and can only await further books on this key battle.”
—John F. Marszalek, Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History and executive director and managing editor, Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, Mississippi State University
“Tim Smith has written an excellent and highly objective work about Grant’s controversial assaults on Vicksburg’s fortifications—assaults that the general himself said he ‘always regretted.’ In this detailed work, Dr. Smith discusses both Union and Confederate leaders, their strategies, and their tactics. The book features a synopsis of events preceding the Vicksburg Campaign, covers the campaign, chronicles the assaults, and concludes with firsthand accounts from the noncombatants in Vicksburg. In short, this valuable work provides something for everyone.”
—Brig. Gen. (Ret.) J. Parker Hills, coauthor of Receding Tide: Vicksburg and Gettysburg—The Campaigns That Changed the Civil War
“With the release of The Union Assaults at Vicksburg: Grant Attacks Pemberton, May 17–22, 1863, Smith soars to a level few historians have achieved. Hands down this is Tim Smith at his finest, and this work will find its rightful place alongside those of Vicksburg legends Ed Bearss, Warren Grabau, and Michael Ballard. Noted for his exhaustive research and the quality of his scholarship, Smith scoured archives across the nation to ferret out heretofore unknown or little-used resources to tell the story of the Union assaults against Vicksburg as experienced by the soldiers who battled their way onto the exterior slopes and into the ditches fronting the city’s formidable defenses as clearly, vividly, and passionately as if he had been among the assaulting troops. It is as captivating as it is enjoyable to read.”
—Terrence J. Winschel, historian (ret.), Vicksburg National Military Park, and author of Triumph and Defeat: The Vicksburg Campaign, Vols. 1–2See fewer reviews...