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Ninety-Eight Days: Geographers View Vicksburg Campaign Hardcover – August 30, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 680 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Tennessee Press; 1st edition (August 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572330686
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572330689
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,253,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Grant's campaign against Vicksburg has been studied from a number of perspectives—but always with the outcome in the foreground. This documented history of the final phases of the Vicksburg Campaign, from March 29 through July 4, 1863, examines the actions of Union and Confederate commanders as they unfolded, reconstructing their decisions based only on what they knew at any given time.
    In meticulous detail, Warren E. Grabau describes the logistical situation at key junctures during the campaign and explains how and why those situations constrained the choices available to Grant and Confederate commander John C. Pemberton. Alternating between Confederate and Federal perspectives, he allows the reader to see the situation as the commanders did and then describes how the available information led to their decisions.
    Grabau examines not only topographic and hydrographic features but also strategic, political, economic, and demographic factors that influenced the commanders’ thinking. He analyzes the effectiveness of the intelligence-gathering capabilities of each side, shows how the decisions of both commanders were affected by the presence of the Union Navy, and describes the impact of political philosophies and command structures on the conduct of the campaign. Through his detailed analysis, Grabau even suggests that Grant had no actual campaign plan but was instead a master opportunist, able to exploit every situation.
    Remarkably detailed maps reconstruct the terrain as it was at the time and show how incomplete data often resulted in poor military decisions. Other supportive material includes Command Structures of the Federal and Confederate Forces in diagrammatic form as they stood at the beginning of the ninety-eight days.
    Ninety-eight Days is a monumental work masterfully executed, a reconstruction of military reasoning that is more analytical than any previous study of Vicksburg. It contributes substantially to our understanding of those military operations and demonstrates how crucial geography is to the conduct of war.
The Author: Warren E. Grabau is a retired geologist with a long interest in the Civil War. He is he coauthor of two earlier books: Evolution of Geomorphology; A Nation-by-Nation Summary of Development (with H. J. Walker) and The Battle of Jackson, May 14, 1863 (with Edwin C. Bearss).

About the Author

The Author: Warren E. Grabau is a retired geologist with a long interest in the Civil War. He is he coauthor of two earlier books: Evolution of Geomorphology; A Nation-by-Nation Summary of Development (with H. J. Walker) and The Battle of Jackson, May 14, 1863 (with Edwin C. Bearss).

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Customer Reviews

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Now I think I will go and re-read the book to enjoy the second time!
Matthew Anderson
Yet all of this information is conveyed without ever bogging down in minutiae or boring the reader.
William C. Callahan
These maps provide great clarity to the narritive and understanding of the events.
Rowan F. Sage

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By William C. Callahan on October 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Why does virtually every military college from Sandhurst to West Point still study U.S. Grant's Vicksburg Campaign of 1863? In the spring of 1998 I was fortunate enough to participate in a three-day guided tour of the Vicksburg Campaign conducted by Warren Grabau. He began the process by raising that question and providing the succinct answer: "logistics." As the author points out in his closing remarks, there is a widely accepted aphorism in military circles that says "amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics." And the subject of logistics lies at the heart of this work. Logistics are the key, from Grant's preparations to move down the west bank of the Mississippi, through his close coordination with Admiral Porter to create an unprecedented joint Army-Navy operation, to his extended operations from Bruinsburg to the final investment of fortress Vicksburg. This work presents this story, masterfully mixed with analysis and explanation of the importance of the terrain, the commanders, and factors such as unreliable communications, poor intelligence and uncertain maps. It also included other factors such as social and political effects and even personal vendettas, dislikes or personality flaws among key officers on both sides. The author, a professional geologist who spent most of his career in Vicksburg, then adds in 68 high quality maps. These were painstakingly hand-tailored by the author in an effort to recreate the closest possible approximation of the actual 1863 landscape by combining modern geodesy with the best information sifted from records of the time. Grant or Pemberton would have traded nearly anything in their possession for such maps.Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By carlos h murillo jr on July 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Let me beging by disclosing that I am not a Civil War buff, even though I enjoy history books. I came across this book by accident, when a relative gave it to me as a gift this past Christmas. In the beginning, I wasn't even sure I would like to read it since the subject matter seemed to be very narrow, but a look at the beautiful maps convinced me otherwise.
What I found was close to the best book of military history I have ever read. By keeping the geography of the Vicksburg area as a permanet reference, the reasoning behind the varied strategic decisions of the campaign became very clear. In addition to shedding light on the tactics of this campaign, Grabau is also successful in depicting the larger picture. For example, he argues in a compelling way that the fall of Vicksburg was the decisive turning point of the war (wich came as a surprise to an unnitiated like me, who thought Gettysburg was much more important).
In my opinion, where this book truly excells is in the minute details of the war: The actions of the Generals involved in the campaign, their day-to-day pressures, the lives of the soldiers, and the ever-present Mississippi soil combine to form a vivid picture of the war and the combatants. Furthermore, in very few other tomes have I seen a clearer depiction of the roles of the traditional branches of an army, from naval support, to artillery, cavalry, infantry, and logistics.
This book was an enlightening and surprisingly joyful read. I sincerely recommend it even to those with a more than a passing interest in military history.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mark Mills on July 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Great book. I have a few reservations, but it is an excellent effort on a subject that deserves far more public attention. For those with serious interest, there are 521 juicy pages of text and 166 pages of maps, notes and index. There is plenty to chew on, but I suspect it's a bit more than the new-comer might be ready to try.
My main reservation is the thumb-nail personality portraits. In brief, the Confederates don't do very well. The Federalist commanders are all portrayed as above average, even the bumbling political-general McClernand seems more than adequate. Grant is a friendly genius. The Federals have nothing on their mind but following orders. On the other hand, the Confederate commanders are clueless, from the commander of Vicksburg up to Robert E. Lee. I say clueless in a literal way. Grant and his staff are constantly making great use of intelligence. The Confederates are portrayed as somewhat content to be deluded, particularly Pemberton, Johnson and Lee. In fact, the author makes an all too brief argument that Lee insured loss of the war by refusing to assist Vicksburg when asked by Davis during meetings held between May 14-16, 1863 (prior to starting off to the disaster at Gettysburg).
With this minor issue out of the way, I have nothing but admiration for the book. It is not really a 'day by day' account, but comes very close. The narrative is told from the perspective of the field commander at the moment of decision. If a decision was made on muddy roads while a generaly dry creek is in flood, you know about it. You even get a geological description of the mud's clay content and hence can estimate how far a loaded wagon will sink into a puddle.
Each chapter covers between a few hours to a few weeks.
Read more ›
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