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The Darkest Days of the War: The Battles of Iuka and Corinth (Civil War America) Paperback – August 7, 2006
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Cozzens' outstanding companion to his three books on the battles of Stones River, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga attends to the battles of Iuka and Corinth in September and October 1862, in which the Mississippi prong of the Confederacy's three-pronged autumn offensive was defeated. Although those battles and their supporting operations have not received much historical coverage, they were hard fought and bloody in proportion to the numbers of troops engaged. Cozzens' battle narratives are, as usual, superlative, and he does not slight logistics or the fact that heat and dysentery claimed nearly as many lives as bullets. He fills the book with memorable portraits of individual units, combatants, and commanders, including Union generals Grant and Rosecrans (giving neither much credit), and the stupendously inept Confederate Earl Van Dorn, who was eventually shot by an outraged husband. This is a demanding but invaluable contribution to study of the Civil War in the West. Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
An illuminating account of an 1862 Confederate campaign in northern Mississippi, whose importance may only be matched by the obscurity into which it has fallen and the grand mistakes made by its planners. Cozzens (No Better Place to Die: The Battle of Stones River, not reviewed) focuses on the contentious relationships among commanders in one corner of the western theater of operations. To protect Braxton Bragg's flank during his Kentucky invasion, Jefferson Davis combined the forces of Sterling Price, whom Davis suspected of disloyalty, and Earl Van Dorn, a vainglorious womanizer, under the leadership of the latter. Davis did not know, however, that Van Dorn had his own agenda: to seize Corinth, the junction of two key railroad systems, and then march for St. Louis. In the way stood Ulysses Grant. The blue and gray forces clashed first at Iuka on Sept. 19, which Cozzens calls a textbook example of an ``engagement gone tragically awry.'' Grant, too far removed to communicate effectively with subordinate Gen. William Rosecrans, lost the opportunity to trap Price. Then, two weeks later, Van Dorn launched an assault with few equals for ineptitude: He conducted no reconnaissance, threw troops exhausted from marching immediately into battle against a well-entrenched foe, failed to achieve surprise, and underestimated West Point classmate Rosecrans. At the resulting battle of Corinth, the Confederates attacked in 100- degree heat for two days, without food, with little water. When the smoke cleared, one-tenth of the Federals had fallen, but Confederate losses were an even more staggering one-third. The campaign gave the Union the major communications and supply center east of the Mississippi, and cleared the way for Grant's Vicksburg campaign. An excellent case study of how army politics, miscommunication, and missed chances could decisively influence a campaign. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I was disappointed by the lack of sufficient maps. None was provided for the action at Corinth on day one, which saw substantial action, and I had to flip ahead 2-3 dozen pages to a map of the second day fighting to help me understand day one. A single map is provided for the Iuka battle. Although the outcome of these related actions have merit in helping the Union win the war--as I find typical with many books on Civil War battles, the author stretches a bit in making a case why this particular battle was a turning point to the outcome of the war. Other than these two issues, the narrative is excellent and I highly recommend the book.
For those who know descriptions of a few paragraphs or pages, studies like this permit them to dig into the details. C. is studiously neutral, never suggesting that it was not a bad thing that the slavocracy lost.
in sum: a good study of what became a strategically important campaign.