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Vicksburg, 1863

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  780 Ratings  ·  60 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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Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Groom has 5 star writing skills and it shows in this work. However, there are too many factual errors and recounting of anecdotes once thought to be real but that scholars have shown to be either apocryphal or pure fiction (such as Cadwallader's accounts of Grant and the bottle...). Additionally, the first two hundred pages of this 450+work are a general overview of the entire war. Still, it was enjoyable to read and can function as a good introduction to Grant's campaign.
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A vivid, well-crafted history of the final campaign for Vicksburg. Groom’s book is more of an overview, and he includes all of the relevant context regarding the war, the political situation, and even finance. Groom argues that Vicksburg was the most significant battle of the war but never returns to this argument in his text. He does do a fine job fleshing out the personalities involved.

However, the narrative is a bit disjointed. There are also a few errors: Groom writes that John Brown was tri
Apr 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Having read very little about civil war battles, and indeed, having read very little of military strategy, I was astonished at a continual scene of missteps and disasters. Misjudging the enemy, bad information, cowardly generals, men sent to be slaughtered because of the bad information - it’s all here, and much more. It seemed like every page had at least one, and sometimes multiple agonies. Although written mostly from the Union perspective, both sides had their share of troubles. Several fema ...more
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: presidents
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
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us-civil-war
very good book on the Vicksburg campaign of the civil war, taking place during the same time the Gettysburg battle was being fought. It was the the victory for the Union forces that told the Southerners that victory wasn't going to happen for them. Vicksburg did not celebrate a 4th of July celebration until the 1940's or so.
Nov 09, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointed. I like the topic, but the style of writing is juvenile. And boring. Couldn't read but few pages.
Alan Mills
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Detailed, highly readable, history of the campaign that made Grant's reputation: the battle for Vicksburg. In 1862, it had become clear to everyone that the initial estimate that the war would only last six months (a delusion shared by both sides) was wildly off base. As the Eastern theater began to look more and more like it would devolve into an extended stalemate, both sides recognized that control of the Mississippi River was key. If it was controlled by the South, then it could easily ship ...more
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent narrative of the Mississippi River campaigns and the Vicksburg Campaign. Contrary to the year in the title, this book does not only focus on the year 1863, but looks all the way back to 1862, when the first major Union movements launched down the Mississippi to occupy the country's artery. Groom does a wonderful job at telling the story, but I did wish there was more discussion on the aftermath of the campaign and its strategic importance overall.
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Traces Grants campaigns through Tennessee
and into Mississippi with the final siege and
7 or 8 attempts to take Vicksburg.
Kathleen Youngman
Very well researched with interesting antidotes of history.
Jul 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jul 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
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
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nestor Rychtyckyj
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Curtis Edmonds
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Max Skidmore
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Roger Taylor
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting study of the Vicksburg campaign which actually began in 1862. Apart from some surprising errors in fact, the author presents a highly enjoyable study of the struggle to capture a vital key to control of the Mississippi River and essentially make the war unwinnable for the south. I found perhaps the most enjoyable part of the book was the period after the surrender with anecdotes about the lives of some of the personalities, great and small, involved in the battle and about the cre ...more
Noah Goats
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. The story of Union efforts to gain control of the Mississippi and cut the Western half of the confederacy off from the East is a fascinating one. People tend to focus on the fighting in the east, this book argues, persuasively, that the most decisive blow in the war was struck in the west, at Vicksburg. It's a story with as many twists and turns as the Mississipi itself, and Winston Groom finds all the drama while explaining the important details. This is fantastic popular his ...more
Don Fox
Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.
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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...
“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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