Question of the Week: 9/5-9/11/22

I hope folks have been paying attention: Timothy B. Smith has quietly been amassing an incredible body of work on the Vicksburg campaign these past couple years. Over the previous two summers, he covered the Union assaults at Vicksburg and then the Siege of Vicksburg. This summer, he backtracks to the beginning of the entire campaign with Early Struggles for Vicksburg: The Mississippi Central Campaign and Chickasaw Bayou, October 25-December 31, 1862.

The University Press of Kansas is to be lauded for doing this all up right. (Their marketing has not been as robust as it could be, at least from what I’ve seen, so if any of these books have been flying under your radar, go look for them. Otherwise, the volumes themselves are handsome and well put together.)

Add to that Tim’s work on Grierson’s Raid, The Real Horse Soldiers (Savas Beatie, 2018), and his early, definitive The Battle of Champion Hill (Savas Beatie, 2006), and that is a remarkable examination of one of the war’s most decisive campaigns. And he’s not done yet. Forthcoming books from Kansas will cover the spring 1863 efforts to get past Vicksburg and Grant’s overland campaign through Mississippi.

So here’s my question(s):

What do you think of Tim’s work on Vicksburg so far? What new insights have you gleaned? What’s been surprising?

And for those of you who haven’t read any of this yet, what are you waiting for? 😉

5 Responses to Question of the Week: 9/5-9/11/22

  1. A couple of years ago my wife and I visited the Vicksburg battlefield. On the way, we sailed right past Champions Hill having no idea about it. What a mistake. In February of this year I happened to have stumbled on Tim’s book on Champion Hill and thought it was fantastic. I also recently heard Tim speak about Grierson’s Raid at the Houston Civil War Round Table which was also fantastic. He is a great presenter. That said, I am looking forward to reading Tim’s other works and learning more about the western theater.

  2. Chris: To put it succinctly (and Tim would categorically reject this statement), he is the worthy successor to Ed Bearss on Vicksburg. To the books you mention I’d add his excellent essay on the fight at Big Black River Bridge in the SIU Press collection titled The Vicksburg Campaign, March 29-May 18, 1863. I’d say that what is unique to Tim’s coverage is his extensive use of recollections and accounts at the lower ranks while keeping a focus on the larger tactical and operational facts. In addition to Tim’s books I recommend that readers with an interest in all this grab a recently-released book on the Battle of Jackson by another author. 🙂

  3. I’ll admit with much shame that I have not read Dr. Smith’s work yet, BUT I attended one of his “Epic Trek” tours two Novembers ago at Chickasaw Bayou and Champion Hill. It was fantastic and despite sore feet afterward, I had a blast and learned a lot. Anything written by him is bound to be just as fabulous as his tours, if not more.

  4. I echo the above praise. My Vicksburg tour with him last year was outstanding (if a bit challenging at times!). As suggested in John Foskett’s parenthetical comment, Tim is a very modest, humble man.

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