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Through the Howling Wilderness: The 1864 Red River Campaign and Union Failure in the West Hardcover – October 1, 2006


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Review

"This work will have strong appeal across the spectrum of students and be of equal benefit to the casual reader as well as the scholar. His maps are excellent and will aid readers in their study." -- Terrence J. Winschel

Book Description

The Red River Campaign of 1864 was a bold attempt to send large Union army and navy forces deep into the interior of Louisiana, seize the Rebel capital of the state, and defeat the Confederate army guarding the region enabling uninhibited access to Texas to the west. Through the Howling Wilderness emphasizes the Confederate defensive measures and the hostile attitudes of commanders toward each other as well as toward their enemies. Gary D. Joiner contends that the campaign was important to both the Union army and navy in the course of the war and afterward, altering the political landscape in the fall presidential elections in 1864. The campaign redirected troops originally assigned to operate in Georgia during the pivotal Atlanta campaign, thus delaying the end of the war by weeks or even months, and it forced the navy to refocus its inland or “brown water” naval tactics. The Red River Campaign ushered in deep resentment toward the repatriation of the State of Louisiana after the war ended. Profound consequences included legal, political, and sociological issues that surfaced in Congressional hearings as a result of the Union defeat. The efforts of the Confederates to defend northern Louisiana have been largely ignored. Their efforts at building an army and preparations to trap the union naval forces before the campaign began have been all but lost in the literature of the Civil War. Joiner’s book will remedy this lack of historical attention. Replete with in-depth coverage on the geography of the region, the Congressional hearings after the Campaign, and the Confederate defenses in the Red River Valley, Through the Howling Wilderness will appeal to Civil War historians and buffs alike.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Tennessee Press; annotated edition edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572335440
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572335448
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,782,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Laura Claire Schlidt on November 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you read "One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End," and wanted more, this is it. From the time that award-winning paperback was written to the publication of this book, Dr. Joiner has apparently discovered new information, which he includes in this book. This could easily be called the definitive narrative of the Red River Campaign. He notes that the book is based on his dissertation, but it is a far better read than most dissertations I've read before. Since the author is also known for cartography, the book has great maps, including a spy map. It offers a good selection of photos as well, with my favorite extra being the listing of naval vessels in the appendix. Even the cover artwork is so striking that it makes for a stunning display! Dr. Joiner offers analysis that may not be to the liking of the "victors" from the North, but it seems to be analysis based on fact. I, for one, found it interesting and thought-provoking and a great addition to the knowledge base of the Civil War. Anyone serious in the accurate accounting of this critical campaign would be remiss if they were to exclude such a work from their collection.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By CWB on November 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Although in my opinion a far too harsh indictment, the 10/18/06 review is essentially correct in that this book basically has the same elements and structure as Joiner's previous work "One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End". However, there is some new material--including some nice new maps--that adds more detail to previously covered subjects (like the Shreveport defenses & Confed. river defenses). Additionally, there is a good chapter at the end covering the campaign's consequences and how it was investigated by the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. Is this material enough to justify the expense? I would say yes if you are a serious student of the campaign (and esp. so if you haven't already read Joiner's earlier work).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The purpose of the Red River Campaign had little to do with the Confederacy itself. Northern textile mills were not doing so well without a steady supply of raw material, and the Union had designs on what they thought was a large supply of cotton just waiting for them in Texas and Louisiana. Also, the French had just recently installed their own puppet emperor, Maximillian, on the throne of Mexico. The Union wanted to make sure that France did not decide to use the Civil War as an opportunity to expand its dominance even further.

The Louisiana Department fought in the Jacksonian fashion with insufficient troops. The Confederates eventually had no choice but to retreat, and all of the Louisiana territory they left in their wake fell under Union control. The Union forces reached the Natchitoches area, remained there a few days, and then took a road to Mansfield toward Shreveport. On April 8, 1864 the Union forces were stretched out over a wide area when they encountered a concentrated Confederate force just outside of Mansfield. The Confederates attacked, and the Union, even with the arrival of reinforcements, was routed. This was a humiliating loss for the Union resulting in the death of 700 men and 1,500 more being taken prisoner. The Confederates also captured quite a stash of artillery, wagons, and horses from the Union forces. Thus the Union managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. However, the Confederate victory was not complete, thus this really didn't change the slow road to defeat that the Confederacy was on at the time.

This book examines all of this, including what might have been and the mistakes that were made on both sides, concerning this lesser known campaign of the Civil War.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ashley E. Braud on November 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
What a joy to finally have another book from Gary Joiner! I've thoroughly enjoyed every one of his outings, and he does not disapoint again. I am a little perplexed, however by the first reviewer's one star assesment of this book. I'm not sure he was reading the same book the rest of us were. This book does not in any way shape or form repeat any information from Joiner's last book, "One Damn Blunder", but complements it. In fact, having read "One Damn Blunder" made "Through the Howling Wilderness" an even more enjoyable read.

My suggestion-- order both. You will not be dissapointed.
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Format: Hardcover
Upon my visit to the Mansfield Battlefield I was thoroughly intrigued about the relatively obscureness of the Red River campaign. I was happy to find Gary Joiner's book in the visitor center at the battlefield and I consumed the contents before I had even made my drive back home. The book begins with a brief overview of the events surrounding the campaign and the author really brings into perspective of why the campaign happened in the first place. This chapter sets the tone for the rest of the book and helps the reader to better understand the overall strategic climate as well as the tactical. The author is very detailed in his analysis(as the end-notes attribute to) but the book also flows well and doesn't get mired down in inconsequential tidbits that can be overwhelming in other Civil war campaign reads. The chapter on congressional hearings was intriguing as well. Overall excellent read. I will be picking up another one of the author's works and any other books that cover this interesting and obscure 1864 campaign.
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Frequently Bought Together

Through the Howling Wilderness: The 1864 Red River Campaign and Union Failure in the West + Little to Eat and Thin Mud to Drink: Letters, Diaries, and Memoirs from the Red River Campaigns, 1863-1864 (Voices of the Civil War) + One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End: The Red River Campaign of 1864 (The American Crisis Series: Books on the Civil War Era)
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