Sunday, March 29, 2009

Book Review: Triumph & Defeat: The Vicksburg Campaign, Vol. 2

Triumph & Defeat: The Vicksburg Campaign, Vol.2
By Terrence J. Winschel

Have you ever said to yourself, “I’ll just eat one potato chip,” and twenty minutes later you look down and to your shock and horror you discover you’ve devoured the whole bag and still craving for more? Such was my feeling when I finished reading Terrence J. Winschel’s “Triumph & Defeat: The Vicksburg Campaign.” Thankfully Mr. Winschel has provided an additional tome, “Triumph & Defeat: The Vicksburg Campaign, Vol. 2” to satiate my apatite.

Mr. Winschel, Chief Historian at the Vicksburg National Military Park, has again written a slim volume of ten stand alone essays on the Campaign for Vicksburg, its siege and the aftermath of its surrender. His essays are well researched, written in a simple and easily understood style, and seasoned with illustrations, maps and photographs. He never talks down to his audience and his essays can be read and savored by the Civil War historian and novice alike.

Using the successful recipe of his first book, each of the essays in his second tome again approach its subject from a number of different perspectives. There is something in Mr. Winschel’s book to satisfy the pallet of every connoisseur of the Vicksburg Campaign and Siege.

The first three essays cover Grant’s crossing of the Mississippi River, and his overland campaign around Vicksburg to approach the city from the east, including the battles leading up to the siege. The Fourth essay reevaluates the relationship between Ulysses S. Grant & John A. McClernand, and the reasons for the latter’s controversial dismissal. In his next essay the author explores the trials and tribulations of the “Brown Water Navy” as he relates the saga of the federal Gunboat Cincinnati. Mr. Winschel next takes us inside the besieged city of Vicksburg in “The Lords of Vicksburg” to give us a taste of civilian life during the siege. He follows up with two essays covering Joseph E. Johnston’s botched efforts to come to Vicksburg’s aid the Siege of Jackson, Mississippi. The ninth, and most significant essay of both Mr. Winschel’s volumes, outlines why Vicksburg was so important to the war efforts of both the Union and Confederate governments and their armies. And finally the last essay on the menu concerns the efforts of Stephen D. Lee and others in the formation of the Vicksburg National Military Park.

But that’s not all, Mr. Winschel, in a hat tip to Michael Shaara’s “The Killer Angels,” has also provided an epilogue, detailing what happened to the various people highlighted in his essays.

Terrence J. Winschel in the two volumes of “Triumph & Defeat: The Vicksburg Campaign,” has given his readers more than just a tantalizing appetizer of the campaign for Vicksburg, its siege and the aftermath of its surrender. He has provided an entrée as well, that satiates his reader’s hunger for knowledge of his subject, but still has left them enough room to be able to eat their desert.

ISBN 1-932714-21-9, Savas Beatie LLC, © 2006, Hardcover, 221 pages, Maps, Photographs and Illustrations, End Notes, Bibliography & Index, $29.95


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your review. Copies of the book are available with signed book plates.
Here is the link to the book on our website:
We appreciate your interest.
Tammy Hall
Savas Beatie LLC

Jim Miller said...

You're very welcome Tammy. It's always a pleasure to read & review a Savas Beatie book!