Friday, April 10, 2009

Groom adds voice on famous siege

[from an article today at]

By WALTER PUTNAM Associated Press Writer

Apr 10th, 2009 "Vicksburg 1863" (Alfred A. Knopf, 496 pages, $30), by Winston Groom: Many books have examined the Union siege of Vicksburg, Miss., over the years, but that's no reason Winston Groom should not lend his unique voice to the subject -- one of the most critical campaigns of the Civil War.

The Alabama author best known for his novel "Forrest Gump," brought to life by Tom Hanks in the 1994 movie, has considerable experience and expertise in both fiction and nonfiction.

With "Vicksburg 1863," Groom brings the novelist's touch to history, personalizing characters such as Union Gens. Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman, as well as Jefferson Davis and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston of the Confederacy, in an easily relatable way for the average reader.

You can read the full article here. Historical fiction set in the American Civil War has long been an interest of mine -- if only more of it were readable or interesting. For every Cold Mountain or Killer Angels, there are twenty Gods and Generals'.

I was struck by Mr. Bloom's McMurry-esque comments on the relative importance of Gettysburg versus Vicksburg in the fortunes of the war. He goes so far as to say the war was over when Vicksburg fell.

The author noted that Vicksburg fell into Grant's hands the same day that the North prevailed in the battle of Gettysburg, ending Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's lone invasion of Union territory. He said Gettysburg, though, pales in comparison to Vicksburg.
"In Vicksburg, not only did you lose your whole Army, you also lost the entire Mississippi River valley and half of your territory," Groom said.

"The South was almost mad to continue the war after that," he said, adding that President Abraham Lincoln would have provided much more favorable terms had the Confederates ended it then rather then almost two years later.


FortyRounder said...

"Much more favorable terms?" How unfavorable were Lincoln's "terms" in 1865? Is Groom implying that Lincoln would have agreed to an armistice in July 1863, allowing the Confederates to keep their slaves and some form of independance? Apparently this would have been a laudable outcome to yet another Southern novelist who's bent on reshaping Civil War hi-story.

dw said...


Good point about more favorable terms. Lincoln's terms were the same from start to finish. And if Vicksburg was as decisive as Bloom suggests, what incentive would Lincoln have had for offering more generous terms after Vicksburg's fall than those offered before it?