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Vicksburg, 1863

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  504 ratings  ·  47 reviews
In this thrilling narrative history of the Civil War’s most strategically important campaign, Winston Groom describes the bloody two-year grind that started when Ulysses S. Grant began taking a series of Confederate strongholds in 1861, climaxing with the siege of Vicksburg two years later. For Grant and the Union it was a crucial success that captured the Mississippi Rive ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published April 20th 2010 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2009)
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Does this scenario sound familiar: a society riven by controversy with each side taking increasingly rigid positions; a new form of communications technology that permits news to travel in seconds which used to require days, Supreme Court decisions that seem to feed the flames of divisiveness, and massive immigration from other countries seeking filling the need for cheap labor in factories and farms. Such was the situation just before the Civil War. Slavery was the issue, the telegraph provided ...more
To Mr. Groom's critics . . . Leave him alone, what's wrong with being a good storyteller? Maybe history would be more appreciated if it was well told. My takeaways . . .
* As in Grant's memoirs I was struck by the role of the navy in the Civil War, of course and especially in the battles for the Mississippi
* All sorts of commanders and troops tried to conquer Vicksburg a total of 9 times. After the last such failure came the siege.
* Pemberton is much villified, and often rightly so. His commande
My family and I took a road trip that included many of the battlefields of Grant's move south in 1862 and 1863, culminating in the siege of Vicksburg; the south finally capitulated on July 4, 1863.

My husband was reading Grant Moves South by Bruce Catton. I read this, which may be titled inaccurately because it covered the same ground as Catton's book, though perhaps with different levels of detail.

I've read other reviews trashing Groom for his academic scholarship and, being a Western Theater ne
If you are looking for a general account of the Vicksburg Campaign this certainly fits the bill. Mr. Groom covers the entire campaign to wrest control of the Mississippi River during the Civil War and although a very general study he does a competent job. I would like to be more enthusiastic, but the work was filled with cliches and not a few inaccuracies that left questions about the research. For example he mentions that the Battle of Antietam was fought at the "drowsy little village of Antiet ...more
Max Skidmore
Another book by the same author that wrote Shiloh. This book gives some of the same details about Ulysses S Grant, Sherman and others. I didn't realize much of the information about Jefferson Davis. With the fall of Vicksburg, the Union controlled the Mississippi River and the Confederacy was divided. The outcome of the war was essentially decided and it is unfortunate that Jefferson Davis insisted on carrying on with the fight. Sherman's attitude was one of "Hard war" and he is famous for his m ...more
Disappointed. I like the topic, but the style of writing is juvenile. And boring. Couldn't read but few pages.
This is the first book that I have read by Winston Groom, and it has made me a big fan of his. HIs writing is excellent with lots of use of the vernacular: "all hell broke loose" is one of his common expressions to accurately portray a particularly ferocious part of a battle. The book is, therefore, extremely interesting to read and hard to put down.

In addition to giving a detailed account of the siege of Vicksburg and the preceding efforts by Grant to take it, Groom provides three valuable ins
We all know the Civil War ended in the spring of 1865 after Sherman’s march to the sea and after Grant finally stopped Lee in Virginia. In his book Vicksburg 1863 Winston Groom doesn’t focus on those events but they are, in a way, the subject of his book. For his main point is that the destructive events of 1864-1865 probably didn’t have to happen. The war should have ended in 1863 when Union forces gained control of the Mississippi river at the battle of Vicksburg.

Control of the Mississippi ri
My knowledge of the Civil War is sparse, so I was quite shocked by the following passage in Vicksburg, 1863 about the aftermath of Shiloh.

The American public, North and South, was shocked, then outraged, as news of the deadly struggle became known. Approximately 20,000 men had been killed and wounded--in about equal numbers for each side. Moreover, the Union had lost nearly 3,000 captured and the Confederates some 1,000. Nothing like it had ever happened before in the Western Hemisphere; indeed
If you love American civil war history, you'll find "Vicksburg, 1863," to be a good read. Although it discusses in considerable detail the story of the defense and tragic loss of Vicksburg for the South, the writing is clear and moves along nicely.

The story within the story is really the most interesting thread--how U.S. Grant, having failed at everything he tried, eventually rose to the command of all Union forces. A West Point graduate but unsuccessful junior army office, he resigned his commi
Nestor Rychtyckyj
THe title may be a bit misleading but this is a very-well written account of the battles in the West that culminated with the surrender of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863. Groom covers the battles that led to this siege and surrender and goies into detail about the major personalities of the campaign (Grant, Sherman, Pemberton, Johnston). The campaign is complex with involvement of different armies and fleets from the Union and he does a good job of explaining the various movements as well as the poli ...more
Josh Liller
Winston Groom is a frustrating author. As an experienced fiction writer who sometimes turns his pen to nonfiction, he is usually a very easy and entertaining read. But as a non-scholar writing for a non-scholarly audience, he eschews citations and even a proper bibliography. Sometimes the result is pretty good, other times the shortcomings shown through.

I have read several of Groom's other non-fiction books (Shrouds of Glory, New Orleans, Shiloh) and would say this is the weakest of the bunch. F
Marred by errors and Lost Cause angles; stick to Forrest Gump, Winston!

Groom does a good job of looking at the Vicksburg campaign from its start in 1862. (No idea whether he, or an editor, chose "Vicksburg **1863**" as the title, though, when it's clearly wrong.

Anyway, Groom does a good job of looking at the whole, year-plus series of efforts to take Vicksburg before Grant succeeded on July 4, 1863. In doing so, he personalizes the history with anecdotes about Grant's drinking, the campaign, and
While Winston Groom is probably better known for his fiction, especially his hit novel Forrest Gump, he has written several volumes of military history, and this is his second one on the American Civil War.
As a southerner, he has some minor biases in his phrasing, and he occasionally loses track of numbers (he accounts for 13 of the 11 Confederate states in one passage), but his narrative skills make for a very interesting read, as he covers the campaign to take this crucial city on the Mississi
Excellent history of the battle for Vicksburg. Does a thorough job of explaining the context that led up to the battle. I especially appreciate the attention to the lives and struggles of the civilians in the area. One of the best Civil War battle books I have read.
Curtis Edmonds
Winston Groom's Vicksburg, 1863 is a bit ponderous and slow-moving, like the Vicksburg campaign itself, but that is largely to its credit. As a military historian, Groom's talent lies in explaining the complexities of military strategy to liberal-arts majors. Here, Groom's focus is on logistics--specifically, how you move a large army through a trackless wilderness, past a mighty fortress, and set it up for a lengthy siege. Groom centers his tale around General Grant, following him through early ...more
I enjoyed the book. I couldn't wait to get back to it. But it sure wasn't focussed on Vicksburg, 1863. Covers the whole war from the start up to that point. Since I saw that there is a book by this author about Shiloh, which gets extensive coverage in this book, I wonder how focussed that one is. But I will still read it.

I read this as an e-book. The e-book would have been better with maps intersperced with the text. I've read e-books that do that. You get lost in place names here. All the maps
Don Fox
Winston Groom is simply a great storyteller, and this book is great history. One perfectly ordinary, randomly selected example:

"Sherman's flotilla had come steaming up the muddy Yazoo River in a great fire-belching parade the likes of which had not yet been seen in the history of war. The big ironclads led the way, blasting anything and everything ahead and on both banks that looked like it might contain a Rebel."

Rich and delicious prose just like that continues for page after wonderful page. I
Grandma Sue
The author's writing style is weak, and his use of military terms without definition distracting. The title isn't suitable because only the last three chapters are about Vicksburg. I learned new (to me) information about the six month build up to the actual Vicksburg campaign, including the use of the Union navy on the Mississippi, and a good deal about the personalities and abilities of the generals involved (Grant, Pemberton, Sherman, etc.), but very little about the average infantry man's exp ...more
Karen Baerkircher
Except for the fact that it's told from a more southern point of view, this is the story I was aiming for when I wrote the narrative of my great-grandfather's service with the 16th O.V.I. The author of "Forrest Gump," Groom knows how to set the scene, bring the characters to life, and keep the action moving while sticking to historical facts. Civil War fanatics may criticize him for the lack of footnotes, and he doesn't go into exhaustive comparisons of different versions of events, but he tells ...more
A good account of the many problems and obstacles that faced General Grant in his attempt to take Vicksburg. The author provides a solid overview of the strategy of this campaign and its overall positioning within the greater war effort. His accounts of the various attempts to overcome Vicksburg's controlling position on the Mississippi and the great difficulties for both Armies are spelt out in vivid form and make for a facinating read!
Mike Rissler
Nothing new, good read. Another book that shows Grant’s abilities as a general and politician were extremely underestimated. The book did not answer the question why people will fight for a bad cause. The slavers had a reason to fight, but the average southern had no real stake in the war. The book also did not answer the question why the south’s elite continue the war even though they knew it was lost.
Mixed feelings about this book. Readable narrative flawed by a few confusing sections. More importantly, simple errors undermine the author's credibility. Can you trust a Civil Was historian who doesn't know that Antietam is a creek and not a village? Sharpsburg was the village (actually a town & not village). Author also confuses east and west and ends with a schmaltziy conclusion.
I am fascinated by the Civil War. I have read many books about the war as a whole, and with that background in depth studies of specific campaigns are fascinating. I didn't know that Grant had tried eight times to
take Vicksburg. The accounts of these attempts, and the histories of the main figures in the conflict were
very good.
Great insight on the siege of Vicksburg by Union forces during the Civil War. Vicksburg was a main Confederate supply area that was to be attacked and captured. Ulysses S. Grant was the Union general who led the attack and before then was dismissed from the army for drunkenness. However, He redeemed himself in the capture of Vicksburg.
David R.
A wonderfully lucid and interesting account of the most difficult military challenge of the War Between the States. Groom's storytelling skills are in fine form as he works with a fascinating set of players and military maneuvers. The buildup to 1863 is spot-on, and the epilogue material is a nice tie-up of loose ends.
Maureen M
I enjoyed the closer look at Jefferson Davis -- I'll remember the story about his decision to import camels to the American Southwest. The detail overwhelmed me in places, but I appreciated learning more about the events leading up to and involving that pivotal point in the Civil War.
Helped me finally to understand what happened out there, the creative tension between the theaters, and Groom adds certain personal insights--such as how the failure of intelligent leaders to surrender a lost war led to the carnage in the south.
Great book. Very well written with a great narrative on the Vicksburg campaign and the battles leading up to the siege of Vicksburg.
An excellent book that details Grant's attack pre-Vicksburg, through Vicksburg, and its aftermath. I have always had an interest in how Vicksburg was won. With this book, I was able to better understand the siege.
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Winston Groom is an American novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for his book Forrest Gump, which was adapted into a film in 1994. Groom was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up in Mobile, Alabama where he attended University Military School (now known as UMS-Wright Preparatory School). He attended the University of Alabama, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta and the Army ROTC, and ...more
More about Winston Groom...
Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump, #1) Gump and Co. (Forrest Gump, #2) The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight Shiloh, 1862 A Storm in Flanders: The Ypres Salient, 1914-1918: Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front

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“Ironically, one concession Davis did make concerned the explosive question of turning slaves into Confederate soldiers. After dismissing as “too controversial” the entreaty by General Patrick Cleburne that slaves be armed and enlisted to fight for the South, Davis finally embraced the notion very late in the game. The Confederate Congress began debating the issue in the early months of 1865, creating a star-burst of vituperation in Richmond. The bombastic old General How-ell Cobb of Georgia roared, “If slaves will make good soldiers, our whole theory of slavery is wrong!” Davis rebuked him this way: “If the Confederacy falls, there should be written on its tombstone, ‘Died of a Theory.’ ” In the end, less than a month before Lee’s surrender, the Confederate Congress approved a bill providing for the partial emancipation and enlistment of slaves in the Confederate armies. The lawyer in Cleburne might have found the debate interesting had he lived to see it, which he did not. He was slain leading his division during Hood’s charge on Franklin, Tennessee, in November 1864.” 0 likes
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