America's Civil War

Plenty of Fight Left

The Union Assaults at Vicksburg: Grant Attacks Pemberton, May 17-22, 1863

By Timothy B. Smith

University Press of Kansas, 2020, $34.95

Thanks to Timothy B. Smith, the past decade has been a good one for anyone with an interest in the great campaigns conducted by Ulysses S. Grant that restored Union control of western Tennessee and the Mississippi River. Here, Smith makes another superb contribution to scholarship, offering an excellent account of the critical week in May 1863 that saw Grant’s army arrive at the outskirts of Vicksburg and launch two assaults on its western defenses. The failure of these assaults demonstrated that despite repeated tactical defeats during the campaign of maneuver Grant conducted during the first half of May, John Pemberton and his army still had plenty of fight left in them. They also set the stage for the demise of John McClernand, the presumptuous political general who was a thorn in Grant’s side, removing a major source of friction in the Union high command.

While there is no shortage of excellent scholarship on the Vicksburg Campaign that addresses the actions in this book, never have they been accorded the importance or been chronicled in such spectacular detail as they are here. There is always the danger in works that go into this level of tactical

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