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Ninety-Eight Days: Geographers View Vicksburg Campaign
by Warren E. Grabau
University of Tennessee Press, 2000
Cloth: 978-1-57233-068-9
Library of Congress Classification E475.27.G79 2000
Dewey Decimal Classification 973.7344

Grant's campaign against Vicksburg has been studied from a number of perspectives—but always with the outcome in the foreground. This documented history of the final phases of the Vicksburg Campaign, from March 29 through July 4, 1863, examines the actions of Union and Confederate commanders as they unfolded, reconstructing their decisions based only on what they knew at any given time.
    In meticulous detail, Warren E. Grabau describes the logistical situation at key junctures during the campaign and explains how and why those situations constrained the choices available to Grant and Confederate commander John C. Pemberton. Alternating between Confederate and Federal perspectives, he allows the reader to see the situation as the commanders did and then describes how the available information led to their decisions.
    Grabau examines not only topographic and hydrographic features but also strategic, political, economic, and demographic factors that influenced the commanders’ thinking. He analyzes the effectiveness of the intelligence-gathering capabilities of each side, shows how the decisions of both commanders were affected by the presence of the Union Navy, and describes the impact of political philosophies and command structures on the conduct of the campaign. Through his detailed analysis, Grabau even suggests that Grant had no actual campaign plan but was instead a master opportunist, able to exploit every situation.
    Remarkably detailed maps reconstruct the terrain as it was at the time and show how incomplete data often resulted in poor military decisions. Other supportive material includes Command Structures of the Federal and Confederate Forces in diagrammatic form as they stood at the beginning of the ninety-eight days.
    Ninety-eight Days is a monumental work masterfully executed, a reconstruction of military reasoning that is more analytical than any previous study of Vicksburg. It contributes substantially to our understanding of those military operations and demonstrates how crucial geography is to the conduct of war.
The Author: Warren E. Grabau is a retired geologist with a long interest in the Civil War. He is he coauthor of two earlier books: Evolution of Geomorphology; A Nation-by-Nation Summary of Development (with H. J. Walker) and The Battle of Jackson, May 14, 1863 (with Edwin C. Bearss).

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